Over the past few decades, male fertility has been decreasing worldwide. Many studies attribute this outcome to endocrine disruptors exposure such as bisphenol A (BPA), which is a chemical compound used in plastics synthesis and exhibiting estrogenic activity. In order to assess how the window of exposure modulates the effects of BPA on the testis, prepubertal (15 dpp to 30 dpp) and pubertal (60 dpp to 75 dpp) male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to BPA (50 µg/kg bw/day), 17-β-estradiol (E2) (20 µg/kg bw/day) as a positive control, or to a combination of these compounds. For both periods of exposure, the rats were sacrificed and their testes were collected at 75 dpp. The histological analysis and the quantification of the gene expression of testis cell markers by RT-qPCR confirmed the complete spermatogenesis in all groups for both periods of exposure. However, our results suggest a deleterious effect of BPA on the blood-testis barrier in adults after pubertal exposure as BPA and BPA+E2 treatments induced a decrease in caveolin-1 and connexin-43 gene expression; which are proteins of the junctional complexes. As none of these effects were found after a prepubertal exposure, these results suggested the reversibility of BPA's effects. Caution must be taken when transposing this finding to humans and further studies are needed in this regard. However, from a regulatory perspective, this study emphasizes the importance of taking into account different periods of exposure, as they present different sensitivities to BPA exposure.
Keywords: Bisphenol A; Blood testis barrier; Endocrine disruptor; Estradiol; In vivo; Seminiferous epithelium; Spermatogenesis.
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