PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Bisphenol A (BPA), a common component of plastic used in many consumer products, has recently become infamous -- and banned in some places -- because it can mimic natural estrogen in the body. A new study by Brown University toxicologists, however, finds that male mice whose mothers were exposed even to high doses of BPA while pregnant developed no signs of harm to their testes as adults.
"This might alleviate some worries for the general public," said Mary Hixon, assistant professor (research) of pathology and laboratory medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the paper's senior author. "It comes down to the biology."
The research, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, appears in advance online in the journal Birth Defects Research (Part B).
In the study, a team led by Hixon and lead author Jessica LaRocca, a graduate student, exposed mice to BPA during days 10 through 16 of their pregnancy, the period of time when the sexual organs of their fetuses were developing.
Some pregnant mice consumed a solution with a concentration of BPA at the EPA-acceptable level, and other pregnant mice were given a solution at a concentration 20 times higher. The experimenters' negative controls were given sesame oil, and the positive controls were given diethylstilbestrol (DES), a much more potent estrogen mimicking chemical.
The researchers then studied the litter size and viability of each mother's pups and later studied several characteristics of the reproductive organs of their adult sons.
What they found is that by every measure at either dose level, the BPA did no apparent harm. The litter sizes of BPA-exposed mothers were not affected compared to the negative control, both at birth and at weaning. In the adult male mice, testis weight, body weight, and seminal vesicle weight were no different. The seminiferous tubules, sperm
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