Perinatal Bisphenol A Exposure Increases Atherosclerosis in Adult Male PXR-Humanized Mice

Endocrinology. 2018 Apr 1;159(4):1595-1608. doi: 10.1210/en.2017-03250.


Bisphenol A (BPA) is a base chemical used extensively in numerous consumer products, and human exposure to BPA is ubiquitous. Higher BPA exposure has been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in multiple human population-based studies. However, the underlying mechanisms responsible for the associations remain elusive. We previously reported that BPA activates the xenobiotic receptor pregnane X receptor (PXR), which has proatherogenic effects in animal models. Because BPA is a potent agonist for human PXR but does not affect rodent PXR activity, a suitable PXR-humanized apolipoprotein E-deficient (huPXR•ApoE-/-) mouse model was developed to study BPA's atherogenic effects. Chronic BPA exposure increased atherosclerosis in the huPXR•ApoE-/- mice. We report that BPA exposure can also activate human PXR signaling in the heart tubes of huPXR•ApoE-/- embryos, and perinatal BPA exposure exacerbated atherosclerosis in adult male huPXR•ApoE-/- offspring. However, atherosclerosis development in female offspring was not affected by perinatal BPA exposure. Perinatal BPA exposure did not affect plasma lipid levels but increased aortic and atherosclerotic lesional fatty acid transporter CD36 expression in male huPXR•ApoE-/- offspring. Mechanistically, PXR epigenetically regulated CD36 expression by increasing H3K4me3 levels and decreasing H3K27me3 levels in the CD36 promoter in response to perinatal BPA exposure. The findings from the present study contribute to our understanding of the association between BPA exposure and increased atherosclerosis or CVD risk in humans, and activation of human PXR should be considered for future BPA risk assessment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / drug effects*
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Apolipoproteins E / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • CD36 Antigens / genetics
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / administration & dosage*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenols / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • CD36 Antigens
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Cholesterol
  • bisphenol A