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Toxicol Sci. 2011 Jan;119(1):209-17. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq319. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

Bisphenol A impairs follicle growth, inhibits steroidogenesis, and downregulates rate-limiting enzymes in the estradiol biosynthesis pathway.

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Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61802, USA.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is used as the backbone for plastics and epoxy resins, including various food and beverage containers. BPA has also been detected in 95% of random urine samples and ovarian follicular fluid of adult women. Few studies have investigated the effects of BPA on antral follicles, the main producers of sex steroid hormones and the only follicles capable of ovulation. Thus, this study tested the hypothesis that postnatal BPA exposure inhibits antral follicle growth and steroidogenesis. To test this hypothesis, antral follicles isolated from 32-day-old FVB mice were cultured with vehicle control (dimethyl sulfoxide [DMSO]), BPA (4.4-440 μM), pregnenolone (10 μg/ml), pregnenolone + BPA 44 μM, and pregnenolone + BPA 440 μM. During the culture, follicles were measured for growth daily. After the culture, media was subjected to ELISA for hormones in the estradiol biosynthesis pathway, and follicles were processed for quantitative real-time PCR of steroidogenic enzymes. The results indicate that BPA (440 μM) inhibits follicle growth and that pregnenolone cotreatment was unable to restore/maintain growth. Furthermore, BPA 44 and 440 μM inhibit progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, estrone, testosterone, and estradiol production. Pregnenolone cotreatment was able to increase production of pregnenolone, progesterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone and maintain androstenedione and estrone levels in BPA-treated follicles compared with DMSO controls but was unable to protect testosterone or estradiol levels. Furthermore, pregnenolone was unable to protect follicles from BPA-(44-440 μM) induced inhibition of steroidogenic enzymes compared with the DMSO control. Collectively, these data show that BPA targets the estradiol biosynthesis pathway in the ovary.

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