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      Neonatal Exposure to Bisphenol A Alters Reproductive Parameters and Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Signaling in Female Rats

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          Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins, and polystyrene and is found in many products. Several reports have revealed potent in vivo effects, because BPA acts as an estrogen agonist and/or antagonist and as an androgen and thyroid hormone antagonist.


          We analyzed the effects of neonatal exposure to BPA on the reproductive axis of female Sprague-Dawley rats.


          Female rats were injected subcutaneusly, daily, from postnatal day 1 (PND1) to PND10 with BPA [500 μg/50 μL (high) or 50 μg/50 μL (low)] in castor oil or with castor oil vehicle alone. We studied body weight and age at vaginal opening, estrous cycles, and pituitary hormone release in vivo and in vitro, as well as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulsatility at PND13 and in adults. We also analyzed two GnRH-activated signaling pathways in the adults: inositol-triphosphate (IP 3), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2).


          Exposure to BPA altered pituitary function in infantile rats, lowering basal and GnRH-induced luteinizing hormone (LH) and increasing GnRH pulsatility. BPA dose-dependently accelerated puberty onset and altered estrous cyclicity, with the high dose causing permanent estrus. In adults treated neonatally with BPA, GnRH-induced LH secretion in vivo was decreased and GnRH pulsatility remained disrupted. In vitro, pituitary cells from animals treated with BPA showed lower basal LH and dose-dependently affected GnRH-induced IP 3 formation; the high dose also impaired GnRH-induced LH secretion. Both doses altered ERK 1/2 activation.


          Neonatal exposure to BPA altered reproductive parameters and hypothalamic–pituitary function in female rats. To our knowledge, these results demonstrate for the first time that neonatal in vivo BPA permanently affects GnRH pulsatility and pituitary GnRH signaling.

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          Most cited references 37

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          In vivo effects of bisphenol A in laboratory rodent studies.

          Concern is mounting regarding the human health and environmental effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a high-production-volume chemical used in synthesis of plastics. We have reviewed the growing literature on effects of low doses of BPA, below 50 mg/(kg day), in laboratory exposures with mammalian model organisms. Many, but not all, effects of BPA are similar to effects seen in response to the model estrogens diethylstilbestrol and ethinylestradiol. For most effects, the potency of BPA is approximately 10-1000-fold less than that of diethylstilbestrol or ethinylestradiol. Based on our review of the literature, a consensus was reached regarding our level of confidence that particular outcomes occur in response to low dose BPA exposure. We are confident that adult exposure to BPA affects the male reproductive tract, and that long lasting, organizational effects in response to developmental exposure to BPA occur in the brain, the male reproductive system, and metabolic processes. We consider it likely, but requiring further confirmation, that adult exposure to BPA affects the brain, the female reproductive system, and the immune system, and that developmental effects occur in the female reproductive system.
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            In vitro molecular mechanisms of bisphenol A action.

            Bisphenol A (BPA, 2,2-bis (4-hydroxyphenyl) propane; CAS# 80-05-7) is a chemical used primarily in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, epoxy resins and as a non-polymer additive to other plastics. Recent evidence has demonstrated that human and wildlife populations are exposed to levels of BPA which cause adverse reproductive and developmental effects in a number of different wildlife species and laboratory animal models. However, there are major uncertainties surrounding the spectrum of BPA's mechanisms of action, the tissue-specific impacts of exposures, and the critical windows of susceptibility during which target tissues are sensitive to BPA exposures. As a foundation to address some of those uncertainties, this review was prepared by the "In vitro" expert sub-panel assembled during the "Bisphenol A: An Examination of the Relevance of Ecological, In vitro and Laboratory Animal Studies for Assessing Risks to Human Health" workshop held in Chapel Hill, NC, Nov 28-29, 2006. The specific charge of this expert panel was to review and assess the strength of the published literature pertaining to the mechanisms of BPA action. The resulting document is a detailed review of published studies that have focused on the mechanistic basis of BPA action in diverse experimental models and an assessment of the strength of the evidence regarding the published BPA research.
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              Estradiol and the developing brain.

              Estradiol is the most potent and ubiquitous member of a class of steroid hormones called estrogens. Fetuses and newborns are exposed to estradiol derived from their mother, their own gonads, and synthesized locally in their brains. Receptors for estradiol are nuclear transcription factors that regulate gene expression but also have actions at the membrane, including activation of signal transduction pathways. The developing brain expresses high levels of receptors for estradiol. The actions of estradiol on developing brain are generally permanent and range from establishment of sex differences to pervasive trophic and neuroprotective effects. Cellular end points mediated by estradiol include the following: 1) apoptosis, with estradiol preventing it in some regions but promoting it in others; 2) synaptogenesis, again estradiol promotes in some regions and inhibits in others; and 3) morphometry of neurons and astrocytes. Estradiol also impacts cellular physiology by modulating calcium handling, immediate-early-gene expression, and kinase activity. The specific mechanisms of estradiol action permanently impacting the brain are regionally specific and often involve neuronal/glial cross-talk. The introduction of endocrine disrupting compounds into the environment that mimic or alter the actions of estradiol has generated considerable concern, and the developing brain is a particularly sensitive target. Prostaglandins, glutamate, GABA, granulin, and focal adhesion kinase are among the signaling molecules co-opted by estradiol to differentiate male from female brains, but much remains to be learned. Only by understanding completely the mechanisms and impact of estradiol action on the developing brain can we also understand when these processes go awry.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                May 2009
                7 January 2009
                : 117
                : 5
                : 757-762
                [1 ]Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
                [2 ]Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to C. Libertun, IByME-CONICET, Vuelta de Obligado 2490, (C1428ADN) Buenos Aires, Argentina. Telephone: 54-11-4783-2869. Fax: 54-11-4786-2564. E-mail: libertun@ 123456dna.uba.ar

                The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.

                Public health

                gonadotropins, estrous cycle, puberty, gnrh signaling, bisphenol a, gnrh pulsatility


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