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Horm Behav. 2006 Jun;50(1):85-93. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Developmental exposure to environmental estrogens alters anxiety and spatial memory in female mice.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Humans and wildlife are exposed to numerous anthropogenic drugs and pollutants. Many of these compounds are hormonally active, and recent evidence suggests that the presence of these endocrine disruptors permanently alters normal development and physiology in a variety of vertebrate species. Here, we report on the effects of developmental exposure to two common estrogenic pollutants, bisphenol A and ethinyl estradiol on sexually dimorphic, non-reproductive behavior. Mice (Mus musculus domesticus) were exposed to environmentally relevant levels of these chemicals (2 and 200 microg/kg/day for bisphenol A and 5 microg/kg/day for ethinyl estradiol) throughout prenatal and early postnatal development. As adults, the animals were observed in a variety of tests measuring sexually dimorphic behaviors including short-term spatial memory (in a radial-arm maze and a Barnes maze) and anxiety (in an elevated-plus maze and a light/dark preference chamber). Developmental exposure to ethinyl estradiol was found to masculinize behavior in all of the assays used. Bisphenol A increased anxious behavior in a dose-dependent fashion but had no effect on spatial memory. These results indicate that non-reproductive, sexually dimorphic behavior is sensitive to endocrine disruption. In addition, these experiments suggest that both humans and wildlife are being exposed to levels of these endocrine disrupting compounds that are sufficient to disrupt the development of the nervous system and that may have permanent consequences on sexually dimorphic behaviors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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