Background: Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical widely
used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin to produce a multitude
of consumer products, food and drink containers, and medical devices. BPA is similar to
estradiol in structure and thus interferes in steroid signalling with different outcomes on
reproductive health depending on doses, life stage, mode, and timing of exposure. In this
respect, it has an emerging and controversial role as a "reproductive toxicant" capable of
inducing short and long-term effects including the modulation of gene expression through
epigenetic modification (i.e. methylation of CpG islands, histone modifications and production
of non-coding RNA) with direct and trans-generational effects on exposed organisms
and their offspring, respectively.
Objective: This review provides an overview about BPA effects on reproductive health
and aims to summarize the epigenetic effects of BPA in male and female reproduction.
Results: BPA exerts epigenetic effects in both male and female reproduction. In males,
BPA affects spermatogenesis and sperm quality and possible trans-generational effects on
the reproductive ability of the offspring. In females, BPA affects ovary, embryo development,
and gamete quality for successful in vivo and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Conclusion: The exact mechanisms of BPA-mediated effects in reproduction are not fully
understood; however, the environmental exposure to BPA - especially in fetal and neonatal
period - deserves attention to preserve the reproductive ability in both sexes and to reduce
the epigenetic risk for the offspring.