Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease caused by immune-mediated pancreatic β-cell destruction. The endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has widespread human exposure and can modulate immune function and the gut microbiome (GMB), which may contribute to the increasing T1D incidence worldwide. It was hypothesized that BPA had sex-dependent effects on T1D by modulating immune homeostasis and GMB. Adult female and male non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice were orally administered BPA at environmentally relevant doses (30 or 300 µg/kg). Antibiotic-treated adult NOD females were exposed to 0 or 30 µg/kg BPA. BPA accelerated T1D development in females, but delayed males from T1D. Consistently, females had a shift towards pro-inflammation (e.g., increased macrophages and Bacteroidetes), while males had increases in anti-inflammatory immune factors and a decrease in both anti- and pro-inflammatory GMB. Although bacteria altered during sub-acute BPA exposure differed from bacteria altered from chronic BPA exposure in both sexes, the GMB profile was consistently pro-inflammatory in females, while males had a general decrease of both anti- and pro-inflammatory gut microbes. However, treatment of females with the antibiotic vancomycin failed to prevent BPA-induced glucose intolerance, suggesting changes in Gram-positive bacteria were not a primary mechanism. In conclusion, BPA exposure was found to have sex dimorphic effects on T1D with detrimental effects in females, and immunomodulation was identified as the primary mechanism.
Keywords: Bisphenol A; Immunomodulation; Microbiome; NOD mice; Type 1 diabetes; Vancomycin.