In a new study, scientists at the University of Missouri show that the direct transmission of bisphenol A (BPA) from a mother to her developing child via the placenta could negatively impact fetal brain development. Cheryl Rosenfeld, professor of biomedical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and colleagues suggest that more attention be paid to how this temporary organ affects fetal brain development.
“The placenta is only a temporary organ that facilitates the exchange of nutrients and wastes between mother and child during pregnancy, but the way the placenta reacts to toxic substances like BPA during pregnancy may have long-term health consequences, ”said Rosenfeld. “We focused on the role of microRNAs in the placenta, which are known to be key mediators in the regulation of cellular functions, including neural development, and the identification of certain cancer markers.”
Rosenfeld suspects that microRNAs play a role in how the effects of BPA exposure can lead to neurological damage later in life.
“These microRNAs can be packaged in extracellular vesicles and can be transported to distant organs in the body,” Rosenfeld said. “We speculate that by altering the pattern of microRNAs in the placenta, these small molecules can then reach the brain, causing harmful effects. Even before the neurons in the brain are developed, these microRNA packets may already guide the development of the brain. fetal brain. These changes may even be different in female and male fetuses. “
BPA is used in many household items such as plastic water bottles and food containers, and the epoxy coating of metal cans. Exposure can occur from simply microwaving food inside polycarbonate plastic food containers. While recent efforts have begun to make products “BPA-free”, the debate for more than a decade about what is considered safe levels of BPA exposure continues. Many studies have looked at the possible health consequences, including neurobehavioural disorders, diabetes, obesity and various reproductive disabilities.
Rosenfeld believes that microRNA changes in the placenta could also be used as a biomarker for early diagnosis of BPA exposure.
“By identifying the relationship between these microRNAs and fetal brain development through exposure to BPA, targeted therapies could potentially be developed to help prevent or reverse some of the harmful effects of BPA exposure due to these microRNAs.” , said Rosenfeld.
Future plans for this work include examining the relationship between the placenta and the brain outside the body through the use of cell culture systems.
This latest discovery continues an interest of more than a decade by Rosenfeld on the effects of exposure to BPA. His most recent interest in the relationship between the placenta and the brain could help scientists develop the foundation for a first step in translational medicine, or research aimed at improving human health by determining the relevance of scientific findings. animals for humans.
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