Thyroid hormone (TH) is essential for proper development in vertebrates. TH deficiency during gestation and early postnatal development produces severe neurological, skeletal, metabolism and growth abnormalities. It is therefore important to consider environmental chemicals that may interfere with TH signaling. Exposure to environmental contaminants that disrupt TH action may underlie the increasing incidence of human developmental disorders worldwide. One contaminant of concern is the xenoestrogen bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. The difficulty in studying uterus-enclosed mammalian embryos has hampered the analysis on the direct effects of BPA during vertebrate development. As TH action at the cellular level is highly conserved across vertebrate species, amphibian metamorphosis serves as an important TH-dependent in vivo vertebrate model for studying potential contributions of BPA toward human developmental disorders. Using Xenopus laevis as a model, we and others have demonstrated the inhibitory effects of BPA exposure on metamorphosis. Genome-wide gene expression analysis revealed that surprisingly, BPA primarily targets the TH-signaling pathway essential for metamorphosis in Xenopus laevis . Given the importance of the genomic effects of TH during metamorphosis and the conservation in its regulation in higher vertebrates, these observations suggest that the effect of BPA in human embryogenesis is through the inhibition of the TH pathway and warrants further investigation. Our findings further argue for the critical need to use in vivo animal models coupled with systematic molecular analysis to determine the developmental effects of endocrine disrupting compounds.
General and Comparative Endocrinology – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2010
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