Does early-life environmental exposure to BPA (Bisphenol A) affect gene expression linked to fatty liver? That's the question Lindsey S. Trevino, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine and team sought to answer in their study using rat models.
Lindsey S. Trevino, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, discussed her study using a rat model of early-life (pre-natal and also early childhood) environmental exposure to BPA (Bisphenol A).
Her team assessed the livers in adult rats and found that the genes that were increased in expression were actually related to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. “What we saw was that this early life exposure actually had an impact on genes that were related to non-alcoholic fatty liver,” Trevino told MD Magazine.
The actual impact was an increase, a “turning on” of the genes that are related to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that increases the susceptibility of the rodents to the disease.
According to Trevino, BPA exposure is ubiquitous, since it’s an industrial chemical that is produced in large volumes in the US and is used in manufacturing, in the food industry for bottles and cans, and it’s also used in the toy industry. Although studies have estimated that approximately 93% of Americans have measurable levels of BPA in the urine, adults could actually metabolize BPA pretty quickly — within 6 hours. However, as long as people not constantly bombarded with BPA, it can effectively be cleared out of the system. But, Trevino pointed out the problem comes in early life, because infants and developing babies don’t have the enzyme to metabolize BPA, so BPA sticks around for much longer.
She continued that hey used the rat model to identify biomarkers that can, in turn, show who is at risk for exposure and for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
“We now want to take those biomarkers and look at human samples in human patients and see if the biomarkers can tell us something about who’s been exposed and/or who is susceptible.”
While BPA exposure can’t completely be prevented, Trevino explained that people can try to change some lifestyle choices like using glass bottles instead of plastic bottles and be cognizant of what toys and products may have BPA.