Exposure to the trichloroethylene metabolite S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)-L-cysteine causes compensatory changes to macronutrient utilization and energy metabolism in placental HTR-8/SVneo cells

Elana Elkin, , Sean Harris and Rita Loch-Caruso

Chemical Research in Toxicology 2020. 33: 1339–1355.


Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a widespread environmental contaminant following decades of use as an industrial solvent, improper disposal and remediation challenges. Consequently, TCE exposure continues to constitute a risk to human health. Despite epidemiological evidence associating exposure with adverse birth outcomes, the effects of TCE and its metabolite S-(1, 2-dichlorovinyl)-L-cysteine (DCVC) on the placenta remain undetermined. Flexible and efficient macronutrient and energy metabolism pathway utilization is essential for placental cell physiological adaptability. Because DCVC is known to compromise cellular energy status and disrupt energy metabolism in renal proximal tubular cells, this study investigated the effects of DCVC on cellular energy status and energy metabolism pathways in placental cells. Human extravillous trophoblast cells, HTR-8/SVneo, were exposed to 5-20 µM DCVC for 6 or 12 h. After establishing concentration and exposure duration thresholds for DCVC-induced cytotoxicity, targeted metabolomics was used to evaluate overall energy status and metabolite concentrations from energy metabolism pathways. The data revealed glucose metabolism perturbations including a time-dependent accumulation of glucose-6-phosphate+frutose-6-phosphate (G6P+F6P) as well as independent shunting of glucose intermediates that diminished with time, with modest energy status decline but in the absence of significant changes in ATP concentrations. Furthermore, metabolic profiling suggested that DCVC stimulated compensatory utilization of glycerol, lipid and amino acid metabolism to provide intermediate substrates entering downstream in the glycolytic pathway or the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Lastly, amino acid deprivation increased susceptibility to DCVC-induced cytotoxicity. Taken together, these results suggest that DCVC caused metabolic perturbations necessitating adaptations in macronutrient and energy metabolism pathway utilization in order to maintain adequate ATP levels.


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