Effects of bisphenol A on the development of central immune organs of specific-pathogen-free chick embryos

Toxicol Ind Health. 2014 Apr;30(3):199-205. doi: 10.1177/0748233712452776. Epub 2012 Jul 10.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical estrogen widely used in the food packaging industry, especially in baby bottles. Its toxicity for the fetus has become a great concern in recent years. In the present study, the effects of BPA on the development of central immune organs in chick embryos were investigated. A total of 30 specific-pathogen-free (SPF) chick embryos were divided into BPA, control, and vehicle group. Chick embryos were exposed to BPA (250 μg per egg), saline (control), or corn oil (vehicle) on embryonic day 9 (ED9) by injection into the allantoic cavity. Thymuses and bursae of Fabricius were collected on ED22. The microscopic examination of tissue structure and ultrastructure was carried out for histopathological changes of thymus and the bursa of Fabricius morphology under light and scanning electron microscopes (SEM). In the BPA group, the weight index of the bursae of Fabricius was significantly reduced (p < 0.01); the number of lymphatic follicles in the bursae of Fabricius was remarkably decreased (p < 0.01); and the thickness of the thymus cortex and medulla was reduced (p < 0.01). Light microscope and SEM examinations further showed that the lymphatic follicles and epithelial cells of the bursa of Fabricius and thymus were damaged by BPA. Our study confirms a direct toxicity of BPA at a very low-dose level on the development of the central immune organs of SPF chick embryos. However, more studies are necessary to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: BPA; bursa of Fabricius; chick embryos; histopathology; thymus; ultramicropathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Bursa of Fabricius / drug effects*
  • Bursa of Fabricius / pathology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects*
  • Thymus Gland / pathology


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A