Fetal liver bisphenol A concentrations and biotransformation gene expression reveal variable exposure and altered capacity for metabolism in humans

J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2013 Feb;27(2):116-23. doi: 10.1002/jbt.21459. Epub 2012 Dec 3.


Widespread exposure to the endocrine active compound, bisphenol A (BPA), is well documented in humans. A growing body of literature suggests adverse health outcomes associated with varying ranges of exposure to BPA. In the current study, we measured the internal dose of free BPA and conjugated BPA and evaluated gene expression of biotransformation enzymes specific for BPA metabolism in 50 first- and second-trimester human fetal liver samples. Both free BPA and conjugated BPA concentrations varied widely, with free BPA exhibiting three times higher concentrations than conjugated BPA concentrations. As compared to gender-matched adult liver controls, UDP-glucuronyltransferase, sulfotransferase, and steroid sulfatase genes exhibited reduced expression whereas β-glucuronidase mRNA expression remained unchanged in the fetal tissues. This study provides evidence that there is considerable exposure to BPA during human pregnancy and that the capacity for BPA metabolism is altered in the human fetal liver.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / adverse effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biotransformation / drug effects
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Fetus / enzymology*
  • Fetus / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenols / adverse effects
  • Phenols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Pregnancy


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