New research examines BPA’s effect on the brain

The food additive BPA (Bisphenol-A) is still making an appearance on U.S. store shelves. A recent study we posted indicates that at least 40% of canned food in U.S. grocery stores continue to contain BPA. Among other common places (such as dental fillings and ATM and cash register receipts) the food additive BPA has been used for many years to line the interior of cans containing food as well as plastic bottles for commercial waters and other drinks.  Numerous scientific studies indicate that BPA is an endocrine disruptor–in other words, it disrupts and changes our hormonal systems.  Now, this latest study indicates the food additive may also mess with our brains–if found to be true in humans, this is a particular concern of the still-developing brains of children.

The recent study examined the effects of BPA on painted turtles.  These turtles “are known as an “indicator species” because they can be used as a barometer for the health of the entire ecosystem. By understanding the possible effects endocrine disrupting chemicals have on turtles, researchers might be able to understand the possible effects such compounds have on other species.”

The findings of the study indicate that both behavioral changes and gene expression were altered up to a year following exposure to BPA.


“Correlation of altered gene expression patterns with the behavioral changes of the animals almost a year after the original exposure indicates that developmental exposure to BPA can lead to long-lasting and likely permanent effects on neurobehavioral responses.

-Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld, lead researcher and investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center


Exposure to BPA potentially induces permanent reprogramming of painted turtles’ brains

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as food storage containers, water bottles and certain resins. In previous studies, Cheryl Rosenfeld, an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, along with other researchers at the University of Missouri, Westminster College and the Saint Louis Zoo, determined that BPA can disrupt sexual function and behavior in painted turtles. Now, the team has identified the genetic pathways that are altered as a result of BPA exposure during early development.



Journal Reference: Lindsey K. Manshack, Caroline M. Conard, Sara J. Bryan, Sharon L. Deem, Dawn K. Holliday, Nathan J. Bivens, Scott A. Givan, Cheryl S. Rosenfeld. Transcriptomic alterations in the brain of painted turtles ( Chrysemys picta ) developmentally exposed to bisphenol A or ethinyl estradiol. Physiological Genomics, 2017; 49 (4): 201 DOI: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00103.2016