Endocrine disruptors and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): elevated serum levels of bisphenol A in women with PCOS

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Mar;96(3):E480-4. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-1658. Epub 2010 Dec 30.


Context: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a widespread industrial compound used in the synthesis of polycarbonate plastics. In experimental animals, neonatal exposure to BPA results in a polycystic ovary-like syndrome (PCOS) in adulthood. A bidirectional interaction between androgens and BPA levels has been disclosed.

Objective: To determine BPA levels in PCOS women as well as the association between BPA and hormonal/metabolic parameters compared to a control group.

Design, setting, and participants: Cross-sectional study of 71 PCOS (National Institutes of Health criteria) and 100 normal women, age- and body mass index-matched, in a University hospital setting.

Main outcome measures: Anthropometric, hormonal, metabolic parameters and BPA blood levels were determined. Patients (PCOS) and controls (C) were further subdivided according to body mass index into lean and overweight subgroups, respectively.

Results: BPA levels were significantly higher in the total PCOS group compared with the controls (1.05±0.56 vs. 0.72±0.37 ng/ml, P < 0.001). PCOS women, lean (PCOS-L) and overweight (PCOS-OW), had higher BPA levels compared to the corresponding control group lean (C-L) and overweight (C-OW): (PCOS-L = 1.13±0.63 vs. C-L = 0.70±0.36, P < 0.001) (PCOS-OW = 0.96 ± 0.46 vs. C-OW = 0.72 ± 0.39, P < 0.05). A significant association of testosterone (r = 0.192, P < 0.05) and androstenedione (r = 0.257, P < 0.05) with BPA was observed. Multiple regression analysis for BPA showed significant correlation with the existence of PCOS (r = 0.497, P < 0.05). BPA was also positively correlated with insulin resistance (Matsuda index) in the PCOS group (r = 0.273, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Higher BPA levels in PCOS women compared to controls and a statistically significant positive association between androgens and BPA point to a potential role of this endocrine disruptor in PCOS pathophysiology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / blood*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Overweight / blood
  • Phenols / blood*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood*
  • Young Adult


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