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Your Environment. Your Health.

Prenatal BPA Exposure Alters Brain Function and Behavior in Mice

Frederica P. Perera, Ph.D., Dr.P.H.
Columbia University Health Sciences
NIEHS Grant P01ES096000

A study supported in part by NIEHS found that low-dose prenatal BPA exposure in mice brought about lasting epigenetic changes in the brain. These changes were sex-specific and associated with alterations in social and anxiety-like behavior.

The researchers exposed pregnant mice to BPA at doses of 2, 20, or 200 micrograms per kilogram a day. They then looked at how this exposure affected gene expression, DNA methylation, and social and anxiety-like behavior of the offspring. They found that these doses of BPA induced changes in expression of genes encoding estrogen receptors and estrogen-related receptors in the offspring. The BPA effects were sex-specific, dose-dependent, and brain region-specific. BPA exposure was also associated with sex-specific effects on social and anxiety-like behaviors.

The researchers say that future studies of the timing and mechanisms of the BPA-related epigenetic disruption as well as identification of the genes and signaling pathways that may be involved will reveal more about the mechanisms that underlie the effects of prenatal BPA exposure on the brain.

Citation: Marija Kundakovic, Kathryn Gudsnuk, Becca Franks, Jesus Madrid, Rachel L. Miller, Frederica P. Perera, and Frances A. Champagne. 2013. Sex-specific epigenetic disruption and behavioral changes following low-dose in utero bisphenol A exposure. PNAS; doi:10.1073/pnas.1214056110 [online 28 May 2013].