Impact of a bisphenol A, F, and S mixture and maternal care on the brain transcriptome of rat dams and pups

Neurotoxicology. 2022 Dec:93:22-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2022.08.014. Epub 2022 Aug 27.


Products containing BPA structural analog replacements have increased in response to growing public concern over adverse effects of BPA. Although humans are regularly exposed to a mixture of bisphenols, few studies have examined effects of prenatal exposure to BPA alternatives or bisphenol mixtures. In the present study, we investigate the effect of exposure to an environmentally-relevant, low-dose (150 ug/kg body weight per day) mixture of BPA, BPS, and BPF during gestation on the brain transcriptome in Long-Evans pups and dams using Tag RNA-sequencing. We also examined the association between dam licking and grooming, which also has enduring effects on pup neural development, and the transcriptomes. Associations between licking and grooming and the transcriptome were region-specific, with the hypothalamus having the greatest number of differentially expressed genes associated with licking and grooming in both dams and pups. Prenatal bisphenol exposure also had region-specific effects on gene expression and pup gene expression was affected more robustly than dam gene expression. In dams, the prelimbic cortex had the greatest number of differentially expressed genes associated with prenatal bisphenol exposure. Prenatal bisphenol exposure changed the expression of over 2000 genes in pups, with the majority being from the pup amygdala. We used Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) to asses enrichment of gene ontology biological processes for each region. Top GSEA terms were diverse and varied by brain region and included processes known to have strong associations with steroid hormone regulation, cilium-related terms, metabolic/biosynthetic process terms, and immune terms. Finally, hypothesis-driven analysis of genes related to estrogen response, parental behavior, and epigenetic regulation of gene expression revealed region-specific expression associated with licking and grooming and bisphenol exposure that were distinct in dams and pups. These data highlight the effects of bisphenols on multiple physiological process that are highly dependent on timing of exposure (prenatal vs. adulthood) and brain region, and reiterate the contributions of multiple environmental and experiential factors in shaping the brain.

Keywords: Amygdala; Bisphenol; Brain; Gene expression; Maternal behavior; Prenatal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity
  • Brain
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Transcriptome*


  • bisphenol A
  • Benzhydryl Compounds