Developmental exposure to low-dose estrogenic endocrine disruptors alters sex differences in exploration and emotional responses in mice

Horm Behav. 2007 Sep;52(3):307-16. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.05.006. Epub 2007 May 22.


Estrogenic endocrine disruptors (EEDs) are naturally occurring or man-made compounds present in the environment that are able to bind to estrogen receptors and interfere with normal cellular development in target organs and tissues. There is mounting evidence that EEDs can interfere with the processes of sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in different animal models. We investigated the effects of maternal exposure to EEDs, at concentrations within the range of human exposure and not patently teratogenic, on behavioral responses of male and female house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) before and after puberty. Pregnant dams were trained to spontaneously drink daily doses of corn oil with or without the estrogenic plastic derivative, bisphenol A (BPA 10 microg/kg), or the estrogenic insecticide methoxychlor (MXC 20 microg/kg) from gestation day 11 to postpartum day 8. Their male and female offspring were examined at different ages to examine several components of explorative and emotional behaviors in 3 experimental paradigms: a novelty test before puberty and, as adults, a free-exploratory open-field test and the elevated plus maze test. The main results are sex differences in control mice on a number of behavioral responses at both ages and in all experimental paradigms, while perinatal exposure to BPA or MXC decreased or eliminated such sex differences. The present findings are evidence of long-term consequences of developmental exposure to BPA and MXC on neurobehavioral development and suggest a differential effect of low-dose exposure to these estrogenic chemicals in males and females.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Phenols
  • methylchlor
  • bisphenol A