60 MiNueTs Toxic

UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, 2017

Video published on 18 Apr 2019 by the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)’s mission is to create a healthier environment for human reproduction and development through advancing scientific inquiry, clinical care and health policies that prevent exposures to harmful chemicals in our environment.

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Endocrine disruptors have an impact on reproduction for several generations

Endocrine disruptors transgenerationally alters pubertal timing through epigenetic reprogramming of the hypothalamus

2019 Study Abstract

Endocrine disruptors are a rising concern for public health due to their ubiquitous presence affecting reproductive development throughout generations.

We aim at studying the transgenerational effect of an EDC mixture on female sexual development and reproduction.

Female rats (F0 generation) were orally exposed to a mixture of 14 anti-androgenic and estrogenic EDCs or corn oil for 2 weeks before and throughout gestation and until weaning. The mixture was composed of plasticizers (BPA, DBP, DEHP), fungicides/pesticides (Vinclozolin, Procymidon, Prochloraz, Epoxynazole, Linurone, p-p’-DDT), UV filters (4-MBC, OMC), Butylparaben and the analgesic Acetaminophen. Doses were in the human exposure range (μg/kg).

Sexual development and reproductive parameters (vaginal opening, GnRH secretion, estrous cyclicity and folliculogenesis) were studied from F1 to F3 generations. Maternal behavior was measured from F0 to F2 generations. At PND21, mediobasal hypothalamus of the F1 and F3 were removed for gene expression analysis (RNAseq, RT-PCR) as well as for Chromatin Immunoprecipitation of histone modifications at regulatory regions of target genes.

The results show multiple multi- and transgenerational effects after ancestral EDC exposure. While F2 and F3 females showed delayed vaginal opening, decreased percentage of regular estrous cycles, decreased GnRH interpulse interval and altered folliculogenesis, no such changes were detected in F1 animals. These alterations were accompanied with transcriptional and histone posttranslational modifications of key hypothalamic genes involved in puberty and reproduction. We observed a downregulation of estrogen signaling (Esr1), genes involved in the GnRH network (Kisspeptin, Grin2d, Tac3R), maternal behavior (Th, Oxt, Avp, Drd1, Drd2) and stress responsiveness (Nr3c1). Upregulated gens involved glucocorticoid activity (Crh) and metabolism (Pomc, Cart). Concomitantly with transcriptional levels, while downregulated genes present higher levels of repressive histone marks (H3K9me3, H3K27me3) and decreased levels of activational histone marks (H3K4me3, H3K9ac), upregulated genes present the opposite pattern. Such histone marks related to changes in the polycomb/thritorax group of protein balance, involved in the control of female puberty. F1 and F2 females displayed decreased licking while spending more time resting alone. F1 RNAseq showed a reduction in Th, Drd1 and Drd2 mRNA expression. These alterations on maternal behavior are known to cause transgenerational alterations of the development of the corticotropic and gonadotropic axis.

In conclusion, exposure to an environmentally relevant EDC mixture transgenerationally affects sexual development and reproduction throughout epigenetic reprogramming of the hypothalamus. While not yet clear, such effects could be mediated by alterations of maternal behavior caused by exposure to the first generation.


DES and the GENES

Effect of environmental and pharmaceutical exposures on fetal testis development and function

A systematic review of human experimental data, 2019


Overall, the incidence of male reproductive disorders has increased in recent decades. Testicular development during fetal life is crucial for subsequent male reproductive function. Non-genomic factors such as environmental chemicals, pharmaceuticals and lifestyle have been proposed to impact on human fetal testicular development resulting in subsequent effects on male reproductive health. Whilst experimental studies using animal models have provided support for this hypothesis, more recently a number of experimental studies using human tissues and cells have begun to translate these findings to determine direct human relevance.

The objective of this systematic review was to provide a comprehensive description of the evidence for effects of prenatal exposure(s) on human fetal testis development and function. We present the effects of environmental, pharmaceutical and lifestyle factors in experimental systems involving exposure of human fetal testis tissues and cells. Comparison is made with existing epidemiological data primarily derived from a recent meta-analysis.

For identification of experimental studies, PubMed and EMBASE were searched for articles published in English between 01/01/1966 and 13/07/2018 using search terms including ‘endocrine disruptor’, ‘human’, ‘fetal’, ‘testis’, ‘germ cells’, ‘testosterone’ and related search terms. Abstracts were screened for selection of full-text articles for further interrogation. Epidemiological studies involving exposure to the same agents were extracted from a recent systematic review and meta-analysis. Additional studies were identified through screening of bibliographies of full-texts of articles identified through the initial searches.

A total of 25 experimental studies and 44 epidemiological studies were included. Consistent effects of analgesic and phthalate exposure on human fetal germ cell development are demonstrated in experimental models, correlating with evidence from epidemiological studies and animal models. Furthermore, analgesic-induced reduction in fetal testosterone production, which predisposes to the development of male reproductive disorders, has been reported in studies involving human tissues, which also supports data from animal and epidemiological studies. However, whilst reduced testosterone production has been demonstrated in animal studies following exposure(s) to a variety of environmental chemicals including phthalates and bisphenol A, these effects are not reproduced in experimental approaches using human fetal testis tissues. Image credit academic.oup.

Direct experimental evidence for effects of prenatal exposure(s) on human fetal testis development and function exists. However, for many exposures the data is limited. The increasing use of human-relevant models systems in which to determine the effects of environmental exposure(s) (including mixed exposures) on development and function of human tissues should form an important part of the process for assessment of such exposures by regulatory bodies to take account of animal-human differences in susceptibility.

Components of plastic : experimental studies in animals and relevance for human health

You are what you eat, and drink


Components used in plastics, such as phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), are detected in humans. In addition to their utility in plastics, an inadvertent characteristic of these chemicals is the ability to alter the endocrine system. Phthalates function as anti-androgens while the main action attributed to BPA is oestrogen-like activity. PBDE and TBBPA have been shown to disrupt thyroid hormone homeostasis while PBDEs also exhibit anti-androgen action. Experimental investigations in animals indicate a wide variety of effects associated with exposure to these compounds, causing concern regarding potential risk to human health. For example, the spectrum of effects following perinatal exposure of male rats to phthalates has remarkable similarities to the testicular dysgenesis syndrome in humans. Concentrations of BPA in the foetal mouse within the range of unconjugated BPA levels observed in human foetal blood have produced effects in animal experiments. Finally, thyroid hormones are essential for normal neurological development and reproductive function. Human body burdens of these chemicals are detected with high prevalence, and concentrations in young children, a group particularly sensitive to exogenous insults, are typically higher, indicating the need to decrease exposure to these compounds.

General Conclusions

Exposure of humans to pharmaceuticals is deliberate, with the intention of achieving a desired effect. Development and testing of medications involves a series of evaluations culminating in human clinical trials before marketing is approved. This is quite different from the situation with chemicals, whose presence in biota and humans is inadvertent. In the field of toxicology, information regarding potential human health effects is mainly derived from experimental studies and, when available, from epidemiological studies. Difficulties are not only encountered with extrapolation from animal models to humans, but epidemiological studies are also thwarted by drawbacks such as controlling for confounding factors. In particular, subjects are exposed to an assortment of chemicals on a daily basis and, often, lack of data regarding the extent of exposure at what may have been the critical time frame. One of the goals of toxicology is to identify effects in animal models with the aim to lower the risks of negatively impacting human health. Implicit in this task is that toxicological data, derived from animal studies indicating a potential for adverse effects, serve as a basis to limit exposure before effects appear or are confirmed in humans. The evidence from animal studies on single exposures to the chemicals discussed here suggests the potential for risk to human health. Moreover, data derived from co-exposure studies support the contention that the assortment of chemicals to which we are exposed on a daily basis increases the likelihood of health effects. The high prevalence of body burdens of these chemicals and simultaneous exposure to a number of substances, in conjunction with the fact that the highest concentrations have been demonstrated in the developing young, a sensitive subpopulation of society, indicate the need to decrease the exposure to these compounds.

Read the full study (free access) on NCBI PubMed, 2009 Jul 27.

BPA link to precursor of type 2 diabetes

Experimental BPA Exposure and Glucose-Stimulated Insulin Response in Adult Men and Women

A first-of-its-kind study of a small group of people exposed to a very small amount of bisphenol-A (BPA) is raising questions about the federal government’s stance that low doses of the common chemical are safe — as well as the ethics of conducting such an experiment on humans. The controversial study suggests that BPA exposure deemed safe by the feds could alter the amount of insulin released and elevate people’s type 2 diabetes risk, Environmental Health News reports.
Featured image credit Simon Zhu.

2018 Study Abstract

Human cross-sectional and animal studies have shown an association of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, but no human experimental study has investigated whether BPA alters insulin/C-peptide secretion.

Men and post-menopausal women (non-diabetic) were orally administered either the vehicle or a BPA dose of 50-µg/kg body weight, which has been predicted by U.S. regulators (FDA, EPA) to be the maximum safe daily oral BPA dose over the lifetime. Insulin response was assessed in two cross-over experiments using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT; experiment 1) and a hyperglycemic clamp (HG clamp; experiment 2). Main outcomes were the percent change of BPA session measures relative to those of the control session.

Serum bioactive BPA after experimental exposure was at levels detected in human biomonitoring studies. In the OGTT, a strong positive correlation was found between HbA1c and the percent change in the insulinogenic index (Spearman=0.92), an indicator of early phase insulin response, and the equivalent C-peptide index (Pearson = 0.97). In the HG clamp study, focusing on the later phase insulin response to a stable level of glucose, several measures of insulin and C-peptide appeared suppressed during the BPA session relative to the control session; the change in insulin Cmax (maximum concentration) was negatively correlated with HbA1c and the Cmax of bioactive serum BPA.

This exploratory study suggests that BPA exposure to a dose considered safe by U.S. regulators may alter glucose-stimulated insulin response in humans.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Behavior

Special issue of Hormones and Behavior, Volume 101, Pages 1-148, May 2018

The peer-reviewed journal Hormones and Behavior, Volume 101, Pages 1-148 (May 2018), raises concern about how many of the 90,000+ chemicals in use today may disrupt our most basic endocrine systems with significant consequences for neurodevelopment, neurophysiology, healthy brain aging, and behavior.

Several articles address bisphenol A :

About PDBEs, triclosan, and other replacement chemicals :

Other studies included in this special issue address behavioral effects of voluntary taken pharmaceuticals, including birth control pills, and pain medications.

About DES and the BRAIN :

Changes in the vocalization patterns of the mice pups whose parents were exposed to BPA prenatally

Multigenerational effects of bisphenol A or ethinyl estradiol exposure on F2 California mice (Peromyscus californicus) pup vocalizations

California mice is used as a special model for parental behaviors with high relevance to humans, because they are monogamous, with both parents caring for neonates. In this study, Johnson and colleagues found changes in the vocalization patterns of the mice pups whose parents were exposed to BPA prenatally (i.e., through exposure of grandparents). These changes in communication abilities could have impacts on the amount of parental care they receive.

2018 Study Abstract

Rodent pups use vocalizations to communicate with one or both parents in biparental species, such as California mice (Peromyscus californicus). Previous studies have shown California mice developmentally exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) or ethinyl estradiol (EE), demonstrate later compromised parental behaviors. Reductions in F1 parental behaviors might also be due to decreased emissions of F2 pup vocalizations. Thus, vocalizations of F2 male and female California mice pups born to F1 parents developmentally exposed to BPA, EE, or controls were examined. Postnatal days (PND) 2–4 were considered early postnatal period, PND 7 and 14 were defined as mid-postnatal period, and PND 21 and 28 were classified as late postnatal period. EE pups showed increased latency to emit the first syllable compared to controls. BPA female pups had decreased syllable duration compared to control and EE female pups during the early postnatal period but enhanced responses compared to controls at late postnatal period; whereas, male BPA and EE pups showed greater syllable duration compared to controls during early postnatal period. In mid-postnatal period, F2 BPA and EE pups emitted greater number of phrases than F2 control pups. Results indicate aspects of vocalizations were disrupted in F2 pups born to F1 parents developmentally exposed to BPA or EE, but their responses were not always identical, suggesting BPA might not activate estrogen receptors to the same extent as EE. Changes in vocalization patterns by F2 pups may be due to multigenerational exposure to BPA or EE and/or reduced parental care received.

About DES and the BRAIN ;

The potential for behavioral and other effects of BPA to be inherited by subsequent generations

Effects of maternal or paternal bisphenol A exposure on offspring behavior

2018 Study Highlights

  • No significant behavioral effects of preconception paternal BPA exposure.
  • Increased anxiety-like behavior in juvenile offspring maternally exposed to BPA.
  • Increased duration and median frequency of ultrasonic vocalizations in BPA pups.
  • Females outperform males in an operant reversal learning task.
  • BPA females earn fewer rewards than control females during operant training.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and resins. Exposure to BPA during gestation has been proposed as a risk factor for the development of neurobehavioral disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. To address the behavioral impact of developmental exposure to BPA, we tested offspring of mice exposed to a daily low dose of BPA during pregnancy. We also asked if preconception exposure of the sire affected behaviors in offspring.

Sires that consumed BPA for 50 days prior to mating weighed less than controls, but no effects on any reproductive measures were noted. Juvenile offspring exposed to BPA maternally, but not paternally, spent less time in the open arms of the elevated plus maze than controls, indicating increased anxiety-like behavior. However, neither parental exposure group differed significantly from controls in the social recognition task.

We also assessed the behaviors of maternally exposed offspring in two novel tasks: ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in pups and operant reversal learning in adults.

Maternal BPA exposure increased the duration and median frequency of USVs emitted by pups during maternal separation. In the reversal learning task, females responded more accurately and earned more rewards than males. Additionally, control females received more rewards than BPA females during the acquisition phase of the task.

These are among the first studies conducted to ask if BPA exposure via the sire affects offspring behavior and the first study to report effects of gestational BPA exposure on pup USVs and adult operant responding.

About DES and the BRAIN ;

The disruptive effects of BPA on growth and development

A plurality of molecular targets: The receptor ecosystem for bisphenol-A (BPA)

2018 Study Highlights

  • Bisphenol-A exerts a range of non-estrogenic effects.
  • Care should be taken in selecting positive controls, given BPA’s range of activity.
  • Non-estrogenic effects can account for many phenotypes produced by BPA exposure.


Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a well-known endocrine disrupting compound (EDC), capable of affecting the normal function and development of the reproductive system, brain, adipose tissue, and more. In spite of these diverse and well characterized effects, there is often comparatively little known about the molecular mechanisms which bring them about. BPA has traditionally been regarded as a primarily estrogenic EDC, and this perspective is often what guides research into the effects of BPA. However, emerging data from in-vitro and in-silico models show that BPA binds with a significant number of hormone receptors, including a number of nuclear and membrane-bound estrogen receptors, androgen receptors, as well as the thyroid hormone receptor, glucocorticoid receptor, and PPARγ. With this increased diversity of receptor targets, it may be possible to explain some of the more puzzling aspects of BPA pharmacology, including its non-monotonic dose-response curve, as well as experimental results which disagree with estrogenic positive controls.

This paper reviews the receptors for which BPA has a known interaction, and discusses the implications of taking these receptors into account when studying the disruptive effects of BPA on growth and development.

About DES and the BRAIN ;

The effects of gestational BPA exposure on neural developmental mechanisms and resulting behaviors

Opening the black box of endocrine disruption of brain development: Lessons from the characterization of Bisphenol A

2018 Study Highlights

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) is a commonly studied endocrine disrupting chemical.
  • Gestational BPA exposure is known to cause lasting cognitive and behavioral alterations.
  • The neurodevelopmental targets of gestational BPA exposure remain poorly understood.
  • Identifying mechanisms of BPA-mediated alterations in brain development should be a priority.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is among the best-studied endocrine disrupting chemicals, known to act via multiple steroid hormone receptors to mediate a myriad of cellular effects. Pre-, peri-, and postnatal BPA exposure have been linked to a variety of altered behaviors in multiple model organisms, ranging from zebrafish to frogs to mammalian models. Given that BPA can cross the human placental barrier and has been found in the serum of human fetuses during gestation, BPA has been postulated to adversely affect ongoing neurodevelopment, ultimately leading to behavioral disorders later in life. Indeed, the brain has been identified as a key developmental target for BPA disruption. Despite these known associations between gestational BPA exposure and adverse developmental outcomes, as well as an extensive body of evidence existing in the literature, the mechanisms by which BPA induces its cellular- and tissue-specific effects on neurodevelopmental processes still remains poorly understood at a mechanistic level.

In this review we will briefly summarize the effects of gestational BPA exposure on neural developmental mechanisms and resulting behaviors, and then present suggestions for how we might address gaps in our knowledge to develop a fuller understanding of endocrine neurodevelopmental disruption to better inform governmental policy against the use of BPA or other endocrine disruptors.

About DES and the BRAIN ;