Reproductive effects of long-term exposure to Bisphenol A in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)

P Sohoni, C R Tyler, K Hurd, J Caunter, M Hetheridge, T Williams, C Woods, M Evans, R Toy, M Gargas, J P Sumpter
Environmental Science & Technology 2001 July 15, 35 (14): 2917-25
Bisphenol A (BPA), a high-volume chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic, epoxy resins, and other chemicals has been reported to be weakly estrogenic. To investigate the effects of long-term exposure to Bisphenol A, a multigeneration study was conducted in which fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were exposed to water concentrations of BPA in the range from 1 to 1280 micrograms/L. In this paper, we report the growth and reproductive effects of BPA on sexually mature adults in the F0 generation (after 43, 71, and 164 d of exposure) and the effects on hatchability in the F1 generation. Mean measured concentrations of BPA in the water for all doses, over a 164-d exposure period, were between 70% and 96% of nominal. An inhibitory effect of BPA on somatic growth (length and weight) occurred in adult male fish exposed to 640 and 1280 micrograms/L (after 71 and 164 d). BPA induced vitellogenin synthesis (VTG; a biomarker for estrogen exposure) in males at concentrations of 640 and 1280 micrograms/L after 43 d and 160 micrograms/L after 71 d. In females, plasma VTG concentrations were elevated above controls only after 164-d exposure to 640 micrograms/L. Inhibition of gonadal growth (as measured by the gonadosomatic index) occurred in both males and females at concentrations of 640 and 1280 micrograms/L after 164 d. In males, a concentration of 16 micrograms/L altered the proportion of sex cell types in the testis, suggesting inhibition of spermatogenesis. Concentrations of BPA that induced VTG synthesis and affected gonadal development were lower than those that resulted in discernible effects on reproductive output. Egg production was inhibited at a BPA concentration of 1280 micrograms/L, and hatchability in the F1 generation was reduced at a BPA concentration of 640 micrograms/L (there were not enough eggs spawned in the 1280 micrograms/L group for hatchability studies to be conducted). The results demonstrate that BPA acts as a weak estrogen to fish when administered via the water, with effects on breeding at and above 640 micrograms/L.

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