Guangdong Provincial Engineering Technology Research Center for Drug and Food Biological Resources Processing and Comprehensive Utilization, School of Life Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, 510631, China; Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Chemical Pollution and Environmental Safety, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510006, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Humans from fetal to adult stages are chronically and passively exposed to bisphenol A (BPA, an endocrine disruptor) due to its ubiquitous existence in daily life. To investigate the long-term neurotoxicity of maternal exposure to BPA for offspring, mice were used as the animal model. In this study, pregnant mice (F0) were orally dosed with BPA (i.e. mice from low-, medium- and high-exposed groups were treated with 0.5, 50, 5000 μg/kg·bw of BPA per day) until weaning. Then, the first generation (F1) mice were used to generate the F2 ones. The offspring of mice not exposed to BPA served as the control groups. The Y-maze test, comet assay, hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining method, Golgi-Cox assay and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) were conducted to study any alterations to learning and memory abilities, the morphological variations in hippocampal neurons and transmitter levels of F1 and F2 mice induced by BPA exposure. Results showed that even a low-dose of maternal BPA exposure could sex-dependently and significantly impair the learning and memory ability of F1 male mice, but not of generation F2. Furthermore, decreased neuron quantities and spine densities in hippocampi were observed in both F1 and F2 generations after maternal BPA exposure. However, DNA damage of brain cells were only limited to F1 offspring, in which DNA damage was only observed in the low-exposed male mice and medium-exposed female mice. Additionally, maternal BPA exposure leads to variations in hippocampal neurotransmitter levels, indicated by the decreased ratio of Glu/GABA in F1 offspring. In conclusion, maternal exposure to an environmental dose of BPA resulted in lasting adverse effects on neurological development for offspring mice.