Three-Generation Study of Male Rats Gestationally Exposed to High Butterfat and Bisphenol A: Impaired Spermatogenesis, Penetrance with Reduced Severity

Nutrients. 2021 Oct 17;13(10):3636. doi: 10.3390/nu13103636.


Gestational high butterfat (HFB) and/or endocrine disruptor exposure was previously found to disrupt spermatogenesis in adulthood. This study addresses the data gap in our knowledge regarding transgenerational transmission of the disruptive interaction between a high-fat diet and endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA). F0 generation Sprague-Dawley rats were fed diets containing butterfat (10 kcal%) and high in butterfat (39 kcal%, HFB) with or without BPA (25 µg/kg body weight/day) during mating and pregnancy. Gestationally exposed F1-generation offspring from different litters were mated to produce F2 offspring, and similarly, F2-generation animals produced F3-generation offspring. One group of F3 male offspring was administered either testosterone plus estradiol-17β (T + E2) or sham via capsule implants from postnatal days 70 to 210. Another group was naturally aged to 18 months. Combination diets of HFB + BPA in F0 dams, but not single exposure to either, disrupted spermatogenesis in F3-generation adult males in both the T + E2-implanted group and the naturally aged group. CYP19A1 localization to the acrosome and estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) localization to the nucleus were associated with impaired spermatogenesis. Finally, expression of methyl-CpG-binding domain-3 (MBD3) was consistently decreased in the HFB and HFB + BPA exposed F1 and F3 testes, suggesting an epigenetic component to this inheritance. However, the severe atrophy within testes present in F1 males was absent in F3 males. In conclusion, the HFB + BPA group demonstrated transgenerational inheritance of the impaired spermatogenesis phenotype, but severity was reduced in the F3 generation.

Keywords: ERbeta; MBD3; aromatase; bisphenol A; endocrine disrupting chemicals; high-fat butter; testes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Butter*
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Estradiol
  • Female
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced*
  • Infertility, Male / genetics
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Testis / metabolism


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Dietary Fats
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Phenols
  • Estradiol
  • Butter
  • bisphenol A