Corticosterone-regulated actions in the rat brain are affected by perinatal exposure to low dose of bisphenol A

Neuroscience. 2010 May 19;167(3):741-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.02.051. Epub 2010 Feb 26.


The estrogen-mimicking endocrine disrupter bisphenol A (BPA) which is used in the manufacture of plastic and epoxy resins, is one of the world's most heavily produced synthetic chemicals. BPA is detected in animal tissues, and its bio-accumulation has shown to be higher in the fetus than the mother. Exposure to doses below the daily safe limit has been reported to affect the sexual differentiation of the brain and modify the behavior of the exposed rodent offspring. The aim of the present study was to investigate in the rat the possible organizational effects of low BPA exposure on glucocorticoid-regulated responses. Female breeders were exposed to 40 microg/kg b.w. BPA daily throughout pregnancy and lactation. Plasma corticosterone levels and the two types of hippocampal corticosteroid receptors (GR and MR) were determined in mid-adolescent offspring under basal conditions and following a Y-maze task. BPA treated females had higher corticosterone levels than control females and BPA males and lower GR levels than BPA males, under basal conditions. Following the mildly stressful experience of Y-maze, corticosterone levels were increased in BPA-treated animals of both sexes, compared to the controls. GR levels were also increased in BPA-treated females compared to males. No effect of BPA was observed on MR levels, whereas the Y-maze experience significantly decreased receptors' levels in both female groups. The animals' performance in the task was also evaluated. BPA exposure significantly impaired the spatial recognition memory in both sexes, and modified the behavioural coping in a sex-dependent manner. Female BPA-treated offspring exhibited increased "anxiety-like" behaviour and dramatic loss of exploration attitude during the task, in comparison to males. This study provides for the first time evidence that corticosterone and its actions in the brain are sensitive to the programming effects of BPA at a dose below the currently acceptable daily intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Corticosterone / agonists*
  • Corticosterone / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / toxicity
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / chemically induced
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / drug effects
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiopathology
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Steroid / drug effects
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Phenols
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • bisphenol A
  • Corticosterone