Bisphenol A May Promote Obesity By Interfering with Leptin Early in Life Interview with:
Alfonso Abizaid PhD

Department of Neuroscience
Carleton University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound considered to be a potential environmental hazard and an endocrine disruptor. We have found an association between exposure to BPA at levels that are considered safe by Health Canada and the EPA early in life, and the development of obesity. In addition, we found that this propensity to develop obesity is due to under development of the hypothalamic projection field of POMC neurons, a set of neurons that regulate satiety and stimulate metabolic rate.

In this paper we replicate those findings and also show that this abnormal development is due to BPA altering the secretion of the hormone leptin at critical times where this hormone is important for the post-natal development of these POMC neurons. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The take home message from our study is, that under controlled conditions, exposure to low levels BPA early in life (during gestation and early postnatal period) alters the hypothalamic systems that promote satiety and accelerate metabolic rate, to promote the development of obesity. This suggest that BPA exposure is an environmental factor that promotes obesity and that tighter restrictions to its use and disposal should be considered. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: I think that translational studies could be conducted to determine if populations that are exposed to higher levels of BPA also have higher obesity rates, and all of this in association with changes in POMC neurons in humans. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: I have no affiliations to any group or company that would have interests on either side of the BPA debate. Our study has been conducted using strict control measures and following toxicology protocols that mimic human exposure simply to try to provide a sound experimental protocol that tests the question: How does BPA promote obesity? This does not mean that all obesity is due to BPA exposure, and in fact most humans are constantly exposed to BPA. But perhaps this type of exposure along with availability of high calorie foods catalyzes obesity and metabolic disorders. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Alfonso Abizaid, Ph.D et al. Perinatal Exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) Delays the Postnatal Leptin Surge in Male and Female CD-1 Mice. Endocrinology, February 2017 DOI: 10.1210/en.2016.1718

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on February 8, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD