Nav: Home

Antioxidant reverses BPD-induced fertility damage in worms

February 06, 2020

From plastics to pesticides, it seems like every week delivers fresh news about the dangers of endocrine disruptors--chemicals in the environment that alter the body's hormones and can lead to reproductive, developmental, neurologic and immune problems and cancer.

Industry regulation and individual consumer choice can reduce exposure to such chemicals, but there are few options to counteract damage that has already occurred.

Now new research conducted in worms suggests a path toward changing that.

A naturally occurring antioxidant known as Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, reversed most of the reproductive harms caused by exposure to the plasticizer BPA (bisphenol A) in Caenorhabditis elegans worms, according to a study led by the lab of Monica Colaiácovo, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School.

The findings, published Feb. 6 in Genetics, provide the first evidence that at least some BPA-induced fertility damage can be undone.

"Chemicals are so prevalent in our environment that it was critical for us to focus first on identifying which ones are toxic and how they may affect human reproductive health," said Colaiácovo, senior author of the study.

"Now, as we continue to screen for and study how chemicals affect reproductive health, we can also ask the next really important question: Given that we're all exposed, how can we mitigate those effects in order to improve fertility and have healthier births?"

CoQ10 is produced by the body and can be found in many foods, particularly meat and fish. It is also available in over-the-counter dietary supplements, but those are neither regulated nor FDA-approved for any health conditions, and they occasionally cause side effects.

Although CoQ10 is already being recommended in some fertility clinics in the U.S. and Canada, the research team cautions that their findings must be replicated in further animal studies and in human clinical trials before the enzyme is prescribed for BPA-induced fertility damage.

Colaiácovo's lab has documented the reproductive repercussions of many environmental chemicals in worms, including BPA.

When work from her lab and others suggested that BPA hampers reproductive health in part by causing oxidative damage, "it made sense to look at antioxidants" for help, she said.

The team started with CoQ10 because it's readily available in stores, inexpensive and relatively safe, so if it proved effective in animal models, it would be well positioned for testing in people, said Colaiácovo.

The Kaneka Corporation, an international chemical manufacturer, provided the compound for the study. It did not contribute funding. None of the study authors stand to benefit financially from increased sales of CoQ10, Colaiácovo confirmed.

The researchers exposed groups of C. elegans worms to BPA, CoQ10 and a solvent called DMSO, alone and in various combinations. The timing of BPA and CoQ10 exposures were designed to approximate those in humans, and BPA levels detected inside the worms were proportional to the amounts found in the general human population.

The researchers found that CoQ10 improved or reversed multiple types of damage caused by BPA. Worms treated with the antioxidant had lower rates of egg cell death, fewer double-strand DNA breaks and fewer chromosome abnormalities during egg cell division, and lower levels of oxidative stress in egg cells. Early embryos also had fewer instances of abnormal chromosome numbers and other defects.

In humans, these types of abnormalities can lead to infertility, miscarriage and birth defects.

"CoQ10 rescued a lot of the defects we'd reported before," said Colaiácovo. "It's exciting to consider that we could be looking at a simple, low-cost intervention."

C. elegans has proved a useful model organism for studying countless aspects of basic biology. Many of the reproductive abnormalities caused by exposure to environmental toxins observed in worms are also seen in mammals from mice to primates, said Colaiácovo, boosting hope that the CoQ10 findings will similarly translate.

Nevertheless, humans are not big worms, and people should not rush out and start taking CoQ10 as an anti-BPA agent without consulting a doctor, the study authors said.

For one thing, the researchers used "very pure," quality controlled CoQ10, while store-bought supplements vary in CoQ10 content and do not always contain the amounts stated on labels, previous analyses have found.

"Our study underscores the need for tighter regulation and dedicated research on the biological effects of supplements," said Colaiácovo.

For Colaiácovo, the findings offer a glimmer of hope amid a flood of concerning findings.

"When we uncover evidence of toxicity from yet another chemical, often there is a feeling of 'Here we go again,'" she said. "But it's important to see what we can learn from it. I want us to figure out solutions."
-end-
Funding and authorship

María Fernanda Hornos Carneiro, who performed the work while at HMS and Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil and is currently at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and Nara Shin, postdoctoral fellow at HMS, are co-first authors of the paper. Other authors are affiliated with the New York State Department of Health and the University at Albany-SUNY School of Public Health.

This work was supported by a São Paulo Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship (FAPESP 2016/23481-2) and the McKenzie Family Charitable Trust.

Harvard Medical School

Related Bpa Articles:

Chemicals used to replace BPA may lead to increased blood pressure
Common bisphenol A (BPA) substitutes can affect the developing fetus and cause hypertension in later life, suggests a rodent study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting.
Think all BPA-free products are safe? Not so fast, scientists warn
Using 'BPA-free' plastic products could be as harmful to human health -- including a developing brain -- as those products that contain the controversial chemical, suggest scientists in a new study led by the University of Missouri and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
BPA activates immune response in mice that passes down through generations
Some plastic food and beverage containers still contain bisphenol A (BPA), which can mimic the hormone estrogen.
BPA replacement hinders heart function, study reveals
BPA's counterpart replacement BPS can hinder heart function within minutes of a single exposure, according to a new University of Guelph study.
Study finds BPA levels in humans dramatically underestimated
Researchers have developed a more accurate method of measuring bispehnol A (BPA) levels in humans and found that exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical is far higher than previously assumed.
Bisphenol-a structural analogues may be less likely than BPA to disrupt heart rhythm
Some chemical alternatives to plastic bisphenol-a (BPA), which is still commonly used in medical settings such as operating rooms and intensive care units, may be less disruptive to heart electrical function than BPA, according to a pre-clinical study that explored how the structural analogues bisphenol-s (BPS) and bisphenol-f (BPF) interact with the chemical and electrical functions of heart cells.
BPA exposure during pregnancy can alter circadian rhythms
Exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated 'safe' human exposure level, can lead to changes in circadian rhythms, according to a mice study to be presented Monday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.
Can prenatal exposures to BPA impact ovarian function?
While previous studies have shown the adverse health effects of prenatal exposure to the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), there is little evidence surrounding effects specifically on ovarian function.
BPA replacements in plastics cause reproductive problems in lab mice
Twenty years ago, researchers made the accidental discovery that BPA had leached out of plastic cages used to house female mice in the lab, causing an increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs.
A step toward ridding register receipts of BPA
Although the US and other countries have banned or restricted the use of bisphenol A (BPA) because of environmental and health concerns, it is still used in thermally printed receipts and labels.
More BPA News and BPA Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.