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Your Environment. Your Health.

BPA Substitute Disrupts Mouse Placenta, May Affect Developing Brain

Cheryl Rosenfeld, D.V.M., Ph.D.
University of Missouri

NIEHS grantees reported that bisphenol S (BPS), a replacement for bisphenol A (BPA), disrupted the mouse placenta during pregnancy. According to the authors, the findings show that BPS exposure may be just as hazardous to the placenta as BPA and may lead to effects on a fetus’s developing brain.

Concerns about the safety of BPA, a chemical in plastics and other products, has led to production of BPA-free goods, which often use closely related chemicals such as BPS. To compare the effects of BPA and BPS, the researchers exposed pregnant mice to one or the other chemical, then collected placental samples and compared them with placental samples from unexposed pregnant mice.

They found that BPA and BPS led to almost identical changes in placental gene expression. The team observed defects in the junctional zone of the placenta, which is a main compartment that produces hormones, growth factors, and immune cells important for the normal progression of pregnancy. They also found that BPA and BPS led to lower levels of placental serotonin, which is essential for fetal brain development in both mice and humans.

The researchers concluded that these observations in mice imply potential associated effects on the placenta and developing brain in humans. Further studies are warranted to ensure the safety of BPA alternatives, such as BPS.  

Citation: Mao J, Jain A, Denslow ND, Nouri MZ, Chen S, Wang T, Zhu N, Koh J, Sarma SJ, Sumner BW, Lei Z, Sumner LW, Bivens NJ, Roberts RM, Tuteja G, Rosenfeld CS. 2020. Bisphenol A and bisphenol S disruptions of the mouse placenta and potential effects on the placenta−brain axis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 17(9):4642–4652.

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