In female primates, BPA exposure is associated with changes in uterus development, reveals research.
"Previous studies have shown that BPA can affect the reproductive tract. However, because the studies were done in rodents, it was uncertain if this would also be true in humans," said co-author Carmen Williams, MD, PhD, a clinical investigator with the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS), Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The new study used the rhesus monkey, a species that is very similar to humans in regard to pregnancy and fetal development, she said.
During a period that represented the third trimester of human pregnancy, Williams and her colleagues gave BPA to 12 pregnant monkeys, each carrying a single female fetus.
In the first year of the experiment, six monkeys received BPA orally in a fruit treat, at a dose of 400 micrograms per kilogram of body weight daily, the researchers said.
During the second year, six additional pregnant monkeys received BPA through capsules implanted subcutaneously (below the skin), for a daily dose of 100 micrograms per kilogram. Both forms of BPA resulted in a BPA level in the blood that is close to levels normally found in adult women.
The investigators analyzed the uterus of each offspring for gene expression. Oral BPA altered expression of HOX and WNT genes that are critical for uterine development, they found.
Differences also appeared in the extent of development of the cells lining the uterine cavity in BPA-exposed animals but not in a control group of unexposed monkeys.
The results were presented recently at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.