Viable skin efficiently absorbs and metabolizes bisphenol A

Chemosphere. 2011 Jan;82(3):424-30. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.09.058. Epub 2010 Oct 27.


Skin contact has been hypothesized to contribute to human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). We examined the diffusion and metabolism of BPA using viable skin models: human skin explants and short-term cultures of pig ear skin, an alternative model for the study of the fate of xenobiotics following contact exposure. 14C-BPA [50-800 nmol] was applied on the surface of skin models. Radioactivity distribution was measured in all skin compartments and in the diffusion cells of static cells diffusion systems. BPA and metabolites were further quantified by radio-HPLC. BPA was efficiently absorbed in short-term cultures, with no major difference between the models used in the study [viable pig ear skin: 65%; viable human explants: 46%; non-viable (previously frozen) pig skin: 58%]. BPA was extensively metabolized in viable systems only. Major BPA metabolites produced by the skin were BPA mono-glucuronide and BPA mono-sulfate, accounting together for 73% and 27% of the dose, in pig and human, respectively. In conclusion, experiments with viable skin models unequivocally demonstrate that BPA is readily absorbed and metabolized by the skin. The trans-dermal route is expected to contribute substantially to BPA exposure in human, when direct contact with BPA (free monomer) occurs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endocrine Disruptors / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Biological
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phenols / toxicity
  • Radioactivity
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Swine


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A