Identification of novel low-dose bisphenol a targets in human foreskin fibroblast cells derived from hypospadias patients

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36711. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036711. Epub 2012 May 4.


Background/purpose: The effect of low-dose bisphenol A (BPA) exposure on human reproductive health is still controversial. To better understand the molecular basis of the effect of BPA on human reproductive health, a genome-wide screen was performed using human foreskin fibroblast cells (hFFCs) derived from child hypospadias (HS) patients to identify novel targets of low-dose BPA exposure.

Methodology/principal findings: Gene expression profiles of hFFCs were measured after exposure to 10 nM BPA, 0.01 nM 17β-estradiol (E2) or 1 nM 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) for 24 h. Differentially expressed genes were identified using an unpaired Student's t test with P value cut off at 0.05 and fold change of more than 1.2. These genes were selected for network generation and pathway analysis using Ingenuity Pathways Analysis, Pathway Express and KegArray. Seventy-one genes (42 downregulated and 29 upregulated) were identified as significantly differentially expressed in response to BPA, among which 43 genes were found to be affected exclusively by BPA compared with E2 and TCDD. Of particular interest, real-time PCR analysis revealed that the expression of matrix metallopeptidase 11 (MMP11), a well-known effector of development and normal physiology, was found to be inhibited by BPA (0.47-fold and 0.37-fold at 10 nM and 100 nM, respectively). Furthermore, study of hFFCs derived from HS and cryptorchidism (CO) patients (n = 23 and 11, respectively) indicated that MMP11 expression was significantly lower in the HS group than in the CO group (0.25-fold, P = 0.0027).

Conclusions/significance: This present study suggests that an involvement of BPA in the etiology of HS might be associated with the downregulation of MMP11. Further study to elucidate the function of the novel target genes identified in this study during genital tubercle development might increase our knowledge of the effects of low-dose BPA exposure on human reproductive health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacology*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Foreskin / pathology*
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Hypospadias / pathology*
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 11 / genetics
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transcriptome / drug effects


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Estradiol
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 11
  • bisphenol A