Circulating levels of bisphenol A and phthalates are related to carotid atherosclerosis in the elderly

Atherosclerosis. 2011 Sep;218(1):207-13. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 May 10.


Background and objective: Bisphenol A (BPA) levels have previously been associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). Since CHD is an atherosclerotic disease, we investigated if circulating levels of BPA and phthalate metabolites are related to atherosclerosis in a cross-sectional study.

Methods: In the population-based Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) study (1016 subjects all aged 70), the prevalence of overt plaques and echogenectity (grey scale median, GSM) of carotid artery plaques were recorded by ultrasound in both of the carotid arteries. The thickness (IMT) and echogenicity (IM-GSM) of the intima-media complex were also measured. Bisphenol A (BPA) and 10 phthalate metabolites were analyzed in serum by a API 4000 liquid chromatograph/tandem mass spectrometer.

Results: Mono-methyl phthalate (MMP) was related to carotid plaques in an inverted U-shaped manner. This pattern was significant after adjustment for gender, body mass index, blood glucose, blood pressure, HDL and LDL-cholesterol, serum triglycerides, smoking, antihypertensive treatment and statin use (p=0.004). High levels of BPA, mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP) and MMP were associated with an echogenic IM-GSM and plaque GSM, while high levels of mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) were associated with an echolucent IM-GSM and plaque GSM (p<0.0001 after adjustment).

Conclusion: The phthalate metabolite MMP was related to atherosclerotic plaques in an inverted U-shaped manner independently of CV risk factors. Some phthalates and BPA were also related to the echogenicity of the plaques, suggesting a role for plaque-associated chemicals in atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / blood*
  • Carotid Stenosis / blood
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Phenols / blood*
  • Phthalic Acids / blood*
  • Prevalence
  • Sweden
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Tunica Intima / pathology
  • Tunica Media / pathology
  • Ultrasonography


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • phthalic acid
  • bisphenol A