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      Effects of Bisphenol-A and Other Endocrine Disruptors Compared With Abnormalities of Schizophrenia: An Endocrine-Disruption Theory of Schizophrenia

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          In recent years, numerous substances have been identified as so-called “endocrine disruptors” because exposure to them results in disruption of normal endocrine function with possible adverse health outcomes. The pathologic and behavioral abnormalities attributed to exposure to endocrine disruptors like bisphenol-A (BPA) have been studied in animals. Mental conditions ranging from cognitive impairment to autism have been linked to BPA exposure by more than one investigation. Concurrent with these developments in BPA research, schizophrenia research has continued to find evidence of possible endocrine or neuroendocrine involvement in the disease. Sufficient information now exists for a comparison of the neurotoxicological and behavioral pathology associated with exposure to BPA and other endocrine disruptors to the abnormalities observed in schizophrenia. This review summarizes these findings and proposes a theory of endocrine disruption, like that observed from BPA exposure, as a pathway of schizophrenia pathogenesis. The review shows similarities exist between the effects of exposure to BPA and other related chemicals with schizophrenia. These similarities can be observed in 11 broad categories of abnormality: physical development, brain anatomy, cellular anatomy, hormone function, neurotransmitters and receptors, proteins and factors, processes and substances, immunology, sexual development, social behaviors or physiological responses, and other behaviors. Some of these similarities are sexually dimorphic and support theories that sexual dimorphisms may be important to schizophrenia pathogenesis. Research recommendations for further elaboration of the theory are proposed.

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          Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development through interleukin-6.

          Schizophrenia and autism are thought to result from the interaction between a susceptibility genotype and environmental risk factors. The offspring of women who experience infection while pregnant have an increased risk for these disorders. Maternal immune activation (MIA) in pregnant rodents produces offspring with abnormalities in behavior, histology, and gene expression that are reminiscent of schizophrenia and autism, making MIA a useful model of the disorders. However, the mechanism by which MIA causes long-term behavioral deficits in the offspring is unknown. Here we show that the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is critical for mediating the behavioral and transcriptional changes in the offspring. A single maternal injection of IL-6 on day 12.5 of mouse pregnancy causes prepulse inhibition (PPI) and latent inhibition (LI) deficits in the adult offspring. Moreover, coadministration of an anti-IL-6 antibody in the poly(I:C) model of MIA prevents the PPI, LI, and exploratory and social deficits caused by poly(I:C) and normalizes the associated changes in gene expression in the brains of adult offspring. Finally, MIA in IL-6 knock-out mice does not result in several of the behavioral changes seen in the offspring of wild-type mice after MIA. The identification of IL-6 as a key intermediary should aid in the molecular dissection of the pathways whereby MIA alters fetal brain development, which can shed new light on the pathophysiological mechanisms that predispose to schizophrenia and autism.
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            Maternal nutrient supplementation counteracts bisphenol A-induced DNA hypomethylation in early development.

            The hypothesis of fetal origins of adult disease posits that early developmental exposures involve epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation, that influence adult disease susceptibility. In utero or neonatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a high-production-volume chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, is associated with higher body weight, increased breast and prostate cancer, and altered reproductive function. This study shows that maternal exposure to this endocrine-active compound shifted the coat color distribution of viable yellow agouti (Avy) mouse offspring toward yellow by decreasing CpG (cytosine-guanine dinucleotide) methylation in an intracisternal A particle retrotransposon upstream of the Agouti gene. CpG methylation also was decreased at another metastable locus, the CDK5 activator-binding protein (CabpIAP). DNA methylation at the Avy locus was similar in tissues from the three germ layers, providing evidence that epigenetic patterning during early stem cell development is sensitive to BPA exposure. Moreover, maternal dietary supplementation, with either methyl donors like folic acid or the phytoestrogen genistein, negated the DNA hypomethylating effect of BPA. Thus, we present compelling evidence that early developmental exposure to BPA can change offspring phenotype by stably altering the epigenome, an effect that can be counteracted by maternal dietary supplements.
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              Neural stem cell proliferation is decreased in schizophrenia, but not in depression.

              The phenomenon of adult neurogenesis (AN), that is, the generation of functional neurons from neural stem cells in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, has attracted remarkable attention, especially as it was shown that this process is also active in the human brain. Based on animal studies, it has been suggested that reduced AN is implicated in the etiopathology of psychiatric disorders, and that stimulation of AN contributes to the mechanism of action of antidepressant therapies. As data from human post-mortem brain are still lacking, we investigated whether the first step of AN, that is, the level of neural stem cell proliferation (NSP; as quantified by Ki-67 immunohistochemistry), is altered in tissue from the Stanley Foundation Neuropathology Consortium comprising brain specimens from patients with bipolar affective disorder, major depression, schizophrenia as well as control subjects (n=15 in each group). The hypothesis was that stem cell proliferation is reduced in affective disorders, and that antidepressant treatment increases NSP. Neither age, brain weight or pH, brain hemisphere investigated nor duration of storage had an effect on NSP. Only in bipolar disorder, post-mortem interval was a significant intervening variable. In disease, onset of the disorder and its duration likewise did not affect NSP. Also, cumulative lifetime dose of fluphenazine was not correlated with NSP, and presence of antidepressant treatment did not result in an increase of NSP. Concerning the different diagnostic entities, reduced amounts of newly formed cells were found in schizophrenia, but not in major depression. Our findings suggest that reduced NSP may contribute to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, whereas the rate of NSP does not seem to be critical to the etiopathology of affective disorders, nor is it modified by antidepressant drug treatment.

                Author and article information

                Schizophr Bull
                Schizophrenia Bulletin
                Oxford University Press
                January 2009
                31 January 2008
                31 January 2008
                : 35
                : 1
                : 256-278
                [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, VCU School of Medicine, Richmond, VA
                [3 ]Crossroads Community Services Board, Farmville, VA
                Author notes
                [1 ]To whom correspondence should be addressed; PO Box 622, Midlothian, VA 23113; tel: 804-897-6386, fax: 804-897-6386, e-mail: jbrown2185@ .
                © 2008 The Authors

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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