Volume 10, Issue 3
Article number e0121927
The pervasive nature of plastics has raised concerns about the impact of continuous exposure to plastic additives on human health. Of particular concern is the use of phthalates in the production of flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products. Di-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) is a commonly used phthalate ester plasticizer that imparts flexibility and elasticity to PVC products. Recent epidemiological studies have reported correlations between urinary phthalate concentrations and cardiovascular disease, including an increased risk of high blood pressure and coronary risk. Yet, there is little direct evidence linking phthalate exposure to adverse effects in human cells, including cardiomyocytes.
Methods and Results
The effect of DEHP on calcium handling was examined using monolayers of gCAMP3 human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, which contain an endogenous calcium sensor. Cardiomyocytes were exposed to DEHP (5 – 50 μg/mL), and calcium transients were recorded using a Zeiss confocal imaging system. DEHP exposure (24 – 72 hr) had a negative chronotropic and inotropic effect on cardiomyocytes, increased the minimum threshold voltage required for external pacing, and modified connexin-43 expression. Application of Wy-14,643 (100 μM), an agonist for the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, did not replicate DEHP’s effects on calcium transient morphology or spontaneous beating rate.
Phthalates can affect the normal physiology of human cardiomyocytes, including DEHP elicited perturbations in cardiac calcium handling and intercellular connectivity. Our findings call for additional studies to clarify the extent by which phthalate exposure can alter cardiac function, particularly in vulnerable patient populations who are at risk for high phthalate exposure.
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Posnack, N.G., Idrees, R., Ding, H., Jaimes III, R., Stybayeva, G., et al. (2015) Exposure to Phthalates Affects Calcium Handling and Intercellular Connectivity of Human Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121927.