Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune disorder characterized by destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Whereas epidemiological data implicate environmental factors in the increasing incidence of T1D, their identity remains unknown. Though exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has been associated with several disorders, no epidemiologic evidence has linked BPA exposure and T1D. The goal of this study was to elucidate diabetogenic potentials of BPA and underlying mechanisms in the context of T-cell immunity, in a multiple low-dose streptozotocin (MLDSTZ)-induced autoimmune mouse T1D model. C57BL/6 mice were orally exposed to 1 or 10 mg BPA/L starting at 4 wk of age; diabetes was induced at 9 wk of age with STZ. T-cell composition, function, and insulitis levels were studied at Days 11 and 50 during diabetes development (i.e. post-first STZ injection). Results showed both BPA doses increased diabetes incidence and affected T-cell immunity. However, mechanisms of diabetogenic action appeared divergent based on dose. Low-dose BPA fits a profile of an agent that exhibits pro-diabetogenic effects via T-cell immunomodulation in the early stages of disease development, i.e. decreases in splenic T-cell subpopulations [especially CD4+ T-cells] along with a trend in elevation of splenic T-cell formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-6). In contrast, high-dose BPA did not affect T-cell populations and led to decreased levels of IFN-γ and TNF-α. Both treatments did not affect insulitis levels at the disease early stage, but aggravated it later on. By the study end, besides decreasing T-cell proliferative capacity, low-dose BPA did not affect other T-cell-related parameters, including cytokine secretion, comparable to the effects of high-dose BPA. In conclusion, this study confirmed BPA as a potential diabetogenic compound with immunomodulatory mechanisms of action - in the context of T-cell immunity - that seemed to be dose dependent in the early immunopathogenesis of a MLDSTZ-induced model of T1D.
Keywords: Bisphenol A (BPA); T-cells; Type 1 diabetes (T1D); multiple low-dose streptozotocin (MLDSTZ)-induced autoimmune mouse T1D.