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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 698795, 11 pages
Review Article

Bisphenol A Effects on Mammalian Oogenesis and Epigenetic Integrity of Oocytes: A Case Study Exploring Risks of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

1Faculty of Biology, Gene Technology/Microbiology, University of Bielefeld, 33601 Bielefeld, Germany
2Laboratory of Toxicology, Unit of Radiation Biology and Human Health, ENEA CR Casaccia, 00123 Santa Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy

Received 16 January 2015; Revised 5 May 2015; Accepted 5 May 2015

Academic Editor: Dong-Wook Han

Copyright © 2015 Ursula Eichenlaub-Ritter and Francesca Pacchierotti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bisphenol A (BPA), originally developed as a synthetic oestrogen, is nowadays extensively used in the production of polymeric plastics. Under harsh conditions, these plastics may release BPA, which then can leach into the environment. Detectable concentrations of BPA have been measured in most analysed samples of human serum, plasma, or urine, as well as in follicular fluid, foetal serum, and amniotic fluid. Here we summarize the evidence about adverse BPA effects on the genetic and epigenetic integrity of mammalian oocytes. We conclude that increasing evidence supports the notion that low BPA concentrations adversely affect the epigenome of mammalian female germ cells, with functional consequences on gene expression, chromosome dynamics in meiosis, and oocyte development. Specific time windows, during which profound chromatin remodelling occurs and maternal imprints are established or protected, appear particularly vulnerable to epigenetic deregulation by BPA. Transgenerational effects have been also observed in the offspring of BPA-treated rodents, although the epigenetic mechanisms of inheritance still need to be clarified. The relevance of these findings for human health protection still needs to be fully assessed, but they warrant further investigation in both experimental models and humans.