Bisphenol S Alters the Lactating Mammary Gland and Nursing Behaviors in Mice Exposed During Pregnancy and Lactation

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High doses of estrogenic pharmaceuticals were once prescribed to women to halt lactation. Yet, the effects of low-level xenoestrogens on lactation remain poorly studied. We investigated the effects of bisphenol S (BPS), an estrogen receptor (ER) agonist, on the lactating mammary gland; the arcuate nucleus, a region of the hypothalamus important for neuroendocrine control of lactational behaviors; and nursing behavior in CD-1 mice. Female mice were exposed to vehicle, 2 or 200 μg BPS/kg/d from pregnancy day 9 until lactational day (LD) 20, and tissues were collected on LD21. Tissues were also collected from a second group at LD2. BPS exposure significantly reduced the fraction of the mammary gland comprised of lobules, the milk-producing units, on LD21, but not LD2. BPS also altered expression of Esr1 and ERα in the mammary gland at LD21, consistent with early involution. In the arcuate nucleus, no changes were observed in expression of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5, a marker of prolactin signaling, or ERα, suggesting that BPS may act directly on the mammary gland. However, observations of nursing behavior collected during the lactational period revealed stage-specific effects on both pup and maternal nursing behaviors; BPS-treated dams spent significantly more time nursing later in the lactational period, and BPS-treated pups were less likely to initiate nursing. Pup growth and development were also stunted. These data indicate that low doses of BPS can alter lactational behaviors and the maternal mammary gland. Together, they support the hypothesis that pregnancy and lactation are sensitive to low-dose xenoestrogen exposures.

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