Neoplasia 2004 Sep-Oct;6(5):584-94
Department of Toxicology, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Garystrasse 5, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
Exposure to estrogenic compounds during critical periods of fetal development could result in adverse effects on the development of reproductive organs that are not apparent until later in life. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is employed in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products, is a prime candidate for endocrine disruption. We examined BPA to address the question of whether in utero exposure affects the uterus of the offspring and studied the expression and distribution of the estrogen receptors alpha (ERalpha) and beta (ERbeta), because estrogens influence the development, growth, and function of the uterus through both receptors. Gravid Sprague-Dawley dams were administered by gavage either 0.1 or 50 mg/kg per day BPA or 0.2 mg/kg per day 17alpha-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) as reference dose on gestation days 6 through 21. Female offspring were killed in estrus. Uterine morphologic changes as well as ERalpha and ERbeta distribution and expression were measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. Striking morphologic changes were observed in the uterine epithelium of postpubertal offspring during estrus of the in utero BPA-treated animals (the thickness of the total epithelium was significantly reduced). ERalpha expression was increased in the 50-mg BPA and EE2-treated group. In contrast, we observed significantly decreased ERbeta expression in all BPA- and EE2-treated animals when compared with the control. In summary, these results clearly indicate that in utero exposure of rats to BPA promotes uterine disruption in offspring. We hypothesize that the uterine disruption could possibly be provoked by a dysregulation of ERalpha and ERbeta.