Perinatal BPA exposure demasculinizes males in measures of affect but has no effect on water maze learning in adulthood

Horm Behav. 2012 Apr;61(4):605-10. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting agent that can alter the normal gonadal steroid-sensitive sexual differentiation of the brain and behavior. While reproductive behavior and physiology are known to be altered by perinatal exposure to this compound, less is known about BPA's effects on sex differences in learning and measures of affect. In order to evaluate the effects of perinatal BPA treatment on learning and affect in adulthood, we exposed rats to one of five doses of BPA through gestation and lactation then examined adult behavior in the Morris Water Maze (MWM), the Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) and the Forced Swim Test (FST). No effect of BPA was observed in the MWM, but on both the EPM and FST, low doses (5 μg/kg) of BPA eliminated sex differences found between controls; furthermore, a non-monotonic dose-response observed in previous studies was confirmed for these tasks. Overall, our study adds to the growing data suggesting that BPA interferes with the normal development of affective behaviors in a non-linear, dose-dependent manner.

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Depression / psychology
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Swimming / psychology


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