In a new study published August 1, 2013 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from the University of California report that prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) causes changes to cellular development of lung airways (Van Winkle et al. 2013). Laura Van Winkle and her colleagues administered deuterated BPA (dBPA) to female rhesus monkeys via a subcutaneous implant for 50 days during mid and late gestation. The researchers thereby ensured that potential contamination during handling did not compromise the measurements. Animal controls received a corn-oil implant or ate corn-oil treated fruit. In monkeys exposed to BPA during late pregnancy, the researchers observed an increased expression of secretory proteins and an increased presence of mucous cells in fetuses’ airway epithelium. Due to small sample size, the scientists were not able to confirm whether this resulted in an increase in mucous production. None of the changes were observed in fetuses exposed in mid-pregnancy. In a news article also published in Environmental Health Perspectives on August 1, 2013, Kathleen Donohue, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, states that the study sheds light on the mechanisms by which BPA affects lung health. Mucous cell abundance is one of the hallmark indicators of asthma. However, it remains unclear whether the changes in fetal airway tissue observed in the study would indeed manifest as disease later in life. More research is warranted to such effect.

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Environmental Health Perspectives


Van Winkle, L. et al. (2013). “Fetal Exposure of Rhesus Macaques to Bisphenol A Alters Cellular Development of the Conducting Airway by Changing Epithelial Secretory Product Expression.” Environmental Health Perspectives 121, 8, 912-918.