Early-life exposure to BPA may affect testis function in adulthood

Jun 21, 2010

Exposure to environmental levels of the industrial chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in the womb and early life may cause long-lasting harm to testicular function, according to a new study conducted in animals. The results are being presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"We are seeing changes in the testis function of rats after exposure to levels that are lower than what the and consider safe exposure levels for humans," said Benson Akingbemi, PhD, the study's lead author and an associate professor at Auburn (Ala.) University. "This is concerning because large segments of the population, including pregnant and nursing mothers, are exposed to this chemical."

Many hard and canned food liners contain BPA, as do some dental sealants. BPA acts in a similar manner as the female sex hormone estrogen and has been linked to female infertility. This chemical is present in placenta and is able to pass from a mother into her . In their study of the male, Akingbemi and colleagues saw harmful effects of BPA at the cellular level, specifically in Leydig cells. These cells in the testis secrete testosterone, the main sex hormone that supports male fertility. After birth, Leydig cells gradually acquire the capacity for testosterone secretion, Akingbemi explained.

The process of testosterone secretion was decreased in male offspring of female rats that received BPA during pregnancy and while nursing. The mothers were fed BPA in olive oil at a dose of either 2.5 or 25 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. Akingbemi said this is below the daily upper limit of safe exposure for humans, which federal guidelines currently put at 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A control group of pregnant rats received olive oil without BPA. Male offspring, after weaning at 21 days of age, received no further exposure to BPA.

Using a combination of analytical methods, the investigators studied the development of Leydig cells in male offspring. The capacity for testosterone secretion was assessed at 21, 35 and 90 days of age. The amount of testosterone secreted per Leydig cell was found to be much lower in male offspring after early-life exposure to BPA than in offspring from control unexposed animals.

"Although BPA exposure stopped at 21 days of age, BPA's effects on Leydig cells, which were seen immediately at the end of exposure and at 35 days, remained apparent until 90 days of age, when the rats reached adulthood," Akingbemi said. "Therefore, the early life period is a sensitive window of exposure to BPA and exposure at this time may affect testis function into adulthood."

Explore further: Teen vaccinations up but HPV coverage remains low overall

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Are Millennials redefining adulthood?

13 minutes ago

Once upon a time, a spouse, children and a home were among the most typical hallmarks of adulthood. But that definition may be changing, says one researcher involved in an ongoing University of Arizona study ...

U.S. suffers from lifespan inequality, says researcher

26 minutes ago

The United States has done worse than other wealthy countries at improving health for working-age adults while it has performed about the same in reducing mortality at ages over 65, according to new Stanford ...

Teen vaccinations up but HPV coverage remains low overall

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—From 2012 to 2013, coverage for adolescents aged 13 to 17 years increased for all routinely recommended vaccinations. Increases ranged from 1.4 percentage points for at least one tetanus toxoid, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

knikiy
not rated yet Jun 21, 2010
Where does the FDA weigh in on this? Are they taking a wait and see attitude? Maybe they just ingested too much BPA early on and don't have the testicular fortitude to protect the population?