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Your Environment. Your Health.

Developmental Exposure to BPA Increases Prostate Cancer Risk

Gail S. Prins, Ph.D.; Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D.; Cheryl Lyn Walker, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Cincinnati; Texas A&M University Health Science Center
NIEHS Grants RC2ES018758, RC2ES018789, R01ES015584

NIEHS grantees report that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during development increases the risk for cancer in human prostate tissue. The researchers believe that BPA reprograms prostate stem cells to be more sensitive to estrogen throughout life, leading to increased susceptibility to diseases including cancer.

To investigate the effect of BPA on human cells, the researchers implanted mice with epithelial stem-like cells cultured from prostates of young, disease-free men. Prostate stem cells arise during early fetal development and produce and maintain a man's prostate tissue throughout his life. To mimic exposure to BPA during embryonic development, the mice were fed 100 or 250 micrograms of BPA per kilogram body weight for two weeks following implantation, the time during which the cells produced humanized prostate tissue. The BPA fed to the mice was equivalent to levels ingested by the average person.

The researchers found that 33 to 36 percent of tissue samples taken from the mice fed BPA had either pre-cancerous lesions or prostate cancer, compared to only 13 percent for a control group of mice. For mice that received prostate stem cells exposed to BPA before implantation and were then continuously exposed to BPA as the stem cells produced prostate tissue, 45 percent of the tissue samples had pre-cancerous lesions or cancer.

Citation: Prins GS, Hu WY, Shi GB, Hu DP, Majumdar S, Li G, Huang K, Nelles J, Ho SM, Walker CL, Kajdacsy-Balla A, van Breemen RB. 2014. Bisphenol A promotes human prostate stem-progenitor cell self-renewal and increases in vivo carcinogenesis in human prostate epithelium. Endocrinology. [Online 1 January 2014].

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