Reduced body weight at weaning followed by increased post-weaning growth rate interacts with part-per-trillion fetal serum concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) to impair glucose tolerance in male mice

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 17;13(12):e0208846. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208846. eCollection 2018.


There is evidence from longitudinal studies that being light at birth and weaning is associated with subsequent rapid weight gain in infants. This is referred to as "centile crossing", which can lead to increased risk of lifetime obesity, glucose dysregulation and type 2 diabetes. Here, pregnant CD-1 mice were hemi-ovariectomized so that the entire litter was contained in one uterine horn to increase variability in fetal growth rate. Pregnant females were implanted on gestation day (GD) 9 with a Silastic capsule containing 6, 60 or 600 μg bisphenol A (BPA). On GD 18 the mean fetal serum unconjugated BPA concentrations were 17, 177 and 1858 pg/ml, respectively. Capsules were not removed, to avoid maternal stress, and were predicted to release BPA for at least 3 weeks. Body weight at weaning was strongly negatively correlated with post-weaning weight gain in both control and BPA-treated male mice, consistent with human data; female offspring were excluded, avoiding complications associated with postpubertal estrogens. Within each treatment group, male offspring were sorted into tertiles based on relative weight gain during the two weeks after weaning, designated as having Rapid (R), Medium (M) or Slow (S) growth rate. BPA exposure was associated with altered growth rate between weaning and postnatal week 12 (young adulthood), when a low-dose (20 mg/kg, i.p.) glucose tolerance test (GTT) was performed. We found altered glucose regulation in response to all doses of BPA. However, glucose tolerance was only significantly impaired (blood glucose levels were elevated) compared to controls in males in the rapid post-weaning growth group exposed perinatally to BPA. We conclude that male mice that are light at weaning, but then experience rapid catch-up growth immediately after weaning, represent a sensitive sub-population that is vulnerable to the metabolic disrupting effects of very low pg/ml fetal serum concentrations of BPA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / blood
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phenols / blood
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood
  • Weaning
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Phenols
  • bisphenol A

Grant support

This research was funded by a grant from to FvS and SCN (ES021394) from NIEHS ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.