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Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Aug;25(6):1084-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2011.02.005. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Epigenetic perspective on the developmental effects of bisphenol A.

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Columbia University, Department of Psychology, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an estrogenic environmental toxin widely used in the production of plastics and ubiquitous human exposure to this chemical has been proposed to be a potential risk to public health. Animal studies suggest that in utero and early postnatal exposure to this compound may produce a broad range of adverse effects, including impaired brain development, sexual differentiation, behavior, and immune function, which could extend to future generations. Molecular mechanisms that underlie the long-lasting effects of BPA continue to be elucidated, and likely involve disruption of epigenetic programming of gene expression during development. Several studies have provided evidence that maternal exposure to BPA results in postnatal changes in DNA methylation status and altered expression of specific genes in offspring. However, further studies are needed to extend these initial findings to other genes in different tissues, and to examine the correlations between BPA-induced epigenetic alterations, changes in gene expression, and various phenotypic outcomes. It will be also important to explore whether the epigenetic effects of BPA are related to its estrogenic activity, and to determine which downstream effector proteins could mediate changes in DNA methylation. In this review, we will highlight research indicating a consequence of prenatal BPA exposure for brain, behavior, and immune outcomes and discuss evidence for the role of epigenetic pathways in shaping these developmental effects. Based on this evidence, we will suggest future directions in the study of BPA-induced epigenetic effects and discuss the transgenerational implications of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

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