Fluoride Action Network


Sodium fluoride (NaF) is associated with embryonic and fetal development abnormalities, but the mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. DNA methylation, an important epigenetic reprogramming mechanism, is essential for normal embryonic development. Thus, we investigated the effect of NaF on DNA methylation in early mouse embryos, as well as mouse sperm and liver using bisulfite sequencing and ELISA. Data indicate that H19, a paternally imprinted gene, compared to control embryos, was less methylated in 8-cell embryos from pregnant mice treated with NaF (100 mg/l) in drinking water for 48 h. Peg3, a maternally imprinted gene, and the Line1 repeated sequence were similarly methylated in NaF-treated and control embryos. Oral ingestion of NaF for 35 days did not significantly change Line1 and genomic global DNA methylation in the liver. H19, Rasgrf1, Line1, and genomic global DNA methylation were also similar in NaF-treated and control sperm. Female mice mated with NaF-treated male mice (35 days) had less methylated H19, but Peg3 was significantly more methylated. Line1 was similarly methylated in treated 8-cell embryos, compared to control embryos. NaF treatment of male mice before copulation significantly increased the expression of H19 in blastocysts, whereas H19 expression was not detected in 8-cell embryos. Data suggest that NaF may interact directly with the embryo to disrupt the maintenance of normal gene imprinting during pregnancy. Long-term NaF exposure of males may not directly affect DNA methylation of the sperm and liver, but the sperm may signal to early embryos with abnormal gene imprinting.