A new test may speed up efforts to find a safe replacement for BPA, a synthetic compound found in plastics and many household items.
There are growing concerns that BPA (Bisphenonal A) disrupts hormones and causes health problems. Many new compounds, including Bispehnol A analogs (BPXs), are now used as substitutes. However, their effects on humans are not fully understood.
Researchers characterized how 18 different BPA analogs affect estrogen receptors, which are the primary targets of this class of chemicals. The studies were conducted using image analysis in different cell line models, with varying exposures to BPA analogs.
“The high throughput approach that we’ve refined during the past several years can simultaneously quantify what these compounds are doing to a wide range of processes such as protein levels, nuclear trafficking, DNA binding, protein interactions, transcription, cell cycle, and proliferation,” says Michael A. Mancini, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and director of advanced imaging at the Texas A&M University Institute of Biosciences and Technology.
“The results showed us that various BPA analogs increased or decreased certain receptor activities, while others were receptor specific; clearly, the various BPA analogs can have unique properties.”
Mancini and colleagues found that many BPA analogs have inhibitory effects on the beta form of the estrogen receptor, a less-studied steroid receptor that has tumor fighting properties. Many analogs also acted to stimulate the alpha form of the estrogen receptor, or they had mixed inhibitory and stimulatory effects.
Determining precisely how these effects influence human health will require additional research.
The scientists note that there are likely many more BPA-like compounds that can be found in products and in the environment, and widely applicable technologies described in their study, published in the journal Chemistry & Biology, enable rapid testing of compounds for unexpected and undesirable activities.