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Environ Health Perspect. Jan 2006; 114(1): 106–112.
Published online Sep 20, 2005. doi:  10.1289/ehp.8451
PMCID: PMC1332664
Research

The Estrogenic Effect of Bisphenol A Disrupts Pancreatic β-Cell Function In Vivo and Induces Insulin Resistance

Abstract

The function of the pancreatic β-cell is the storage and release of insulin, the main hormone involved in blood glucose homeostasis. The results in this article show that the widespread environmental contaminant bisphenol-A (BPA) imitates 17β-estradiol (E2) effects in vivo on blood glucose homeostasis through genomic and nongenomic pathways. The exposure of adult mice to a single low dose (10 μg/kg) of either E2 or BPA induces a rapid decrease in glycemia that correlates with a rise of plasma insulin. Longer exposures to E2 and BPA induce an increase in pancreatic β-cell insulin content in an estrogen-receptor–dependent manner. This effect is visible after 2 days of treatment and starting at doses as low as 10 μg/kg/day. After 4 days of treatment with either E2 or BPA, these mice developed chronic hyperinsulinemia, and their glucose and insulin tolerance tests were altered. These experiments unveil the link between environmental estrogens and insulin resistance. Therefore, either abnormal levels of endogenous estrogens or environmental estrogen exposure enhances the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

Keywords: bisphenol A, diabetes, endocrine disruptors, estradiol, estrogen receptor, insulin, islet of Langerhans, nongenomic, xenoestrogens

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