Exposure measurements from several countries indicate that humans are routinely exposed to low levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic xenoestrogen widely used in the production of polycarbonate plastics.
There is considerable debate about whether this exposure represents an environmental risk, based on reports that BPA interferes with the development of many organs and that it may alter cognitive functions and mood.
Consistent with these reports, we have previously demonstrated that BPA antagonizes spine synapse formation induced by estrogens and testosterone in limbic brain areas of gonadectomized female and male rats.
An important limitation of these studies, however, is that they were based on rodent animal models, which may not be representative of the effects of human BPA exposure.
To address this issue, we examined the influence of continuous BPA administration, at a daily dose equal to the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's reference safe daily limit, on estradiol-induced spine synapse formation in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of a nonhuman primate model.
Our data indicate that even at this relatively low exposure level, BPA completely abolishes the synaptogenic response to estradiol.
Because remodeling of spine synapses may play a critical role in cognition and mood, the ability of BPA to interfere with spine synapse formation has profound implications.
This study is the first to demonstrate an adverse effect of BPA on the brain in a nonhuman primate model and further amplifies concerns about the widespread use of BPA in medical equipment, and in food preparation and storage.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sep 16, 2008;105(37) ;; 14187-14191. Leranth C, Jajszan T, Szigeti-Buck K, Bober J, Maclusky NJ. Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Neurobiology, and Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. [E-mail: email@example.com]