Low-dose developmental exposure to bisphenol A induces sex-specific effects in bone of Fischer 344 rat offspring
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of polycarbonate plastics to which humans are regularly exposed at low levels, and an endocrine disruptor with effects on several hormonal systems. Bone is a sensitive hormone target tissue, and we have recently shown that in utero and lactational exposure to 25 μg BPA/kg BW/day alters femoral geometry in rat offspring.Objective:
To investigate bone effects in rat offspring after developmental exposure to a BPA dose in the range of human daily exposure (0.1–1.5 μg/kg BW/day) as well as a dose to corroborate previous findings.Methods:
Pregnant Fischer 344 rats were exposed to BPA via drinking water corresponding to 0.5 μg/kg BW/day: [0.5], (n=21) or 50 μg/kg BW/day: , (n = 16) from gestational day 3.5 until postnatal day 22, while controls were given only vehicle (n = 25). The offspring was sacrificed at 5 weeks of age. Bone effects were analyzed using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), the 3-point bending test, plasma markers of bone turnover, and gene expression in cortical bone and bone marrow.Results:
Compared to controls, male offspring developmentally exposed to BPA had shorter femurs. pQCT analysis revealed effects in the [0.5] group, but not in the  group; BPA reduced both trabecular area (−3.9%, p < 0.01) and total cross sectional area (−4.1%, p < 0.01) of femurs in the [0.5] group, whereas no effects were seen on bone density. Conversely, bone length and size were not affected in female offspring. However, the procollagen type I N-terminal propeptide (P1NP), a peptide formed during type 1 collagen synthesis, was increased in plasma (42%: p < 0.01) in female offspring exposed to [0.5] of BPA, although collagen gene expression was not increased in bone. The biomechanical properties of the bones were not altered in either sex. Bone marrow mRNA expression was only affected in male offspring.Conclusions:
Developmental low-dose exposure to BPA resulted in sex-specific bone effects in rat offspring. A dose approximately eight times lower than the current temporary EFSA human tolerable daily intake of 4 μg/kg BW/day, reduced bone length and size in male rat offspring. Long-term studies are needed to clarify whether the increased plasma levels of P1NP in female offspring reflect development of fibrosis.