Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a widely used endocrine-disrupting chemical. Prenatal exposure to BPA is known to affect birth weight, but its impact on the cardiovascular system has not been studied in detail. In this study, we investigated the effects of prenatal BPA treatment and its interaction with postnatal overfeeding on the cardiovascular system. Pregnant sheep were given daily subcutaneous injections of corn oil (control) or BPA (0.5 mg/kg/day in corn oil) from day 30 to day 90 of gestation. A subset of female offspring of these dams were overfed to increase body weight to ~30% over that of normal fed controls. Cardiovascular function was assessed using non-invasive echocardiography and cuff blood pressure (BP) monitoring at 21 months of age. Ventricular tissue was analyzed for gene expression of cardiac markers of hypertrophy and collagen at the end of the observation period. Prenatal BPA exposure had no significant effect on BP or morphometric measures. However, it increased atrial natriuretic peptide gene expression in the ventricles and reduced collagen expression in the right ventricle. Overfeeding produced a marked increase in body weight and BP. There were compensatory increases in left ventricular area and internal diameter. Prenatal BPA treatment produced a significant increase in interventricular septal thickness when animals were overfed. However, it appeared to block the increase in BP and left ventricular area caused by overfeeding. Taken together, these results suggest that prenatal BPA produces intrinsic changes in the heart that are capable of modulating morphological and functional parameters when animals become obese in later life.
Keywords: blood pressure; cardiac gene expression; cardio-metabolic programming; echocardiography; endocrine disruptors.