Six popular BPA alternatives all mimic estrogen in breast cancer cells; three of them more so than BPA itself, according to new research.
2017 Study Abstract
Plasticizers with estrogenic activity, such as bisphenol A (BPA), have been reported to have potential adverse health effects in humans. Due to mounting evidence of these health effects and public pressure, BPA is being phased out by the plastics manufacturing industry and replaced by other bisphenol variants in “BPA-free” products.
We have compared estrogenic activity of BPA to 6 bisphenol analogues (bisphenol S, BPS; bisphenol F, BPF; bisphenol AP, BPAP; bisphenol AF, BPAF; bisphenol Z, BPZ; bisphenol B, BPB) in three human breast cancer cell lines.
Estrogenicity was assessed by cell growth in an estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated cell proliferation assay, and by the induction of estrogen response element (ERE)-mediated transcription in a luciferase assay. Gene expression profiles were determined in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by microarray analysis and confirmed by Illumina-based RNA sequencing.
All bisphenols showed estrogenic activity in promoting cell growth and inducing ERE-mediated transcription. BPAF was the most potent bisphenol, followed by BPB > BPZ ~ BPA > BPF ~ BPAP > BPS. The addition of ICI 182,780 antagonized the activation of ERs by bisphenols. Data mining of ToxCast high-throughput screening assays confirms our results but also shows divergence in the sensitivities of the assays. The comparison of transcriptome profile alterations resulting from BPA alternatives with an ERα gene expression biomarker further indicates that all BPA alternatives act as ERα agonists in MCF-7 cells. These results were confirmed by RNA sequencing.
In conclusion, BPA alternatives are not necessarily less estrogenic in a human breast cancer cell model. Three bisphenols (BPAF, BPB, and BPZ) were more estrogenic than BPA. The relevance of human exposure to BPA alternatives in hormone-dependent breast cancer risk should be investigated.