Multiple sclerosis (MS), a demyelinating immune-mediated central nervous system disease characterized by increasing female penetrance, is the leading cause of disability in young adults in the developed world. Epidemiological data strongly implicate an environmental factor, acting at the population level during gestation, in the increasing incidence of female MS observed over the last 50 years, yet the identity of this factor remains unknown. Gestational exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics since the 1950s, has been reported to alter a variety of physiological processes in adulthood. BPA has estrogenic activity, and we hypothesized that increased gestational exposure to environmental BPA may therefore contribute to the increasing female MS risk. To test this hypothesis, we utilized two different mouse models of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in C57BL/6J mice (chronic progressive) and in SJL/J mice (relapsing-remitting). Dams were exposed to physiologically relevant levels of BPA in drinking water starting 2 weeks prior to mating and continuing until weaning of offspring. EAE was induced in adult offspring. No significant changes in EAE incidence, progression, or severity were observed with BPA exposure, despite changes in cytokine production by autoreactive T cells. However, endocrine disruption was evidenced by changes in testes development, and transcriptomic profiling revealed that BPA exposure altered the expression of several genes important for testes development, including Pdgfa, which was downregulated. Overall, our results do not support gestational BPA exposure as a significant contributor to the increasing female MS risk.
2013. Vol. 135, no 1, 91-102 p.