The latest research from the University of Missouri shows that BPA causes male deer mice to become demasculinized and behave more like females in their spatial navigational abilities, leading scientists to conclude that exposure to BPA during human development could be damaging to behavioral and cognitive traits that are unique to each sex and important in reproduction.
Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor in biomedical sciences and Bond Life Sciences investigator, found BPA-exposed male deer mice are demasculinized and undesirable to females.
“The BPA-exposed deer mice in our study look normal; there is nothing obviously wrong with them. Yet, they are clearly different,” said Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor in biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center.
“Females do not want to mate with BPA-exposed male deer mice, and BPA-exposed males perform worse on spatial navigation tasks that assess their ability to find female partners in the wild. This study sets the stage for BPA researchers to examine how BPA might differentially impact the behavioral and cognitive patterns of boys versus girls. In addition, male deer mice exposed to BPA were less desirable to female deer mice. Females primed to breed were tested in a so-called mate choice experiment. exposed males on a two-to-one basis.
“These findings presumably have broad implications to other species, including humans, where there are also innate differences between males and females in cognitive and behavioral patterns,” Rosenfeld said. “In the wide scheme of things, these behavioral deficits could, in the long term, undermine the ability of a species such as the deer mouse to reproduce in the wild. Whether there are comparable health threats to humans remains unclear, but there clearly must be a concern.”
“We can use this evolutionary approach to the study of BPA to determine the best way to assess differences in the risks to boys and girls to early exposure to this chemical,” said David Geary MU Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences.