Liver: how the accumulation of bisphenol A and phthalates damages it

Liver: how the accumulation of bisphenol A and phthalates damages it

Cosmetics, food, furniture, household products… We are constantly exposed to endocrine disruptors in our daily lives. They are “suspected of contributing to many chronic or developmental pathologies : hormonal disorders and their consequences (infertility, precocious puberty, obesity, thyroid disease…), but also birth defects, hormone-dependent cancers, and even immune disorders”, specifies Public Health France.

Endocrine disruptors: the harmful power of the cocktail effect

Several studies show the harmful effects of these chemicals, but individually. However, strong concerns are expressed on the part of scientists regarding the real impact of these substances when they accumulate in the body. Indeed, if taken in isolation, these particles do not always have an effect on health, e They can interact with each other and disturb the body when they are grouped together. This is called “the cocktail effect”.

A team of researchers from Chung-Ang University in Seoul therefore decided to study the consequences of exposure to bisphenol A and seven common phthalates present in plastics, on liver function. “Our study attempted to change the conventional toxicological approach and we hope it will have a huge impact on the regulatory and public health outlook”, said Professor Pang, co-author of the study.

Bisphenol A and phthalates combined: toxic effects on the liver?

Scientists have long known that bisphenol A and phthalates are structurally similar to steroid hormones that regulate chemical signaling in the body. It means they are capable of manipulating and disrupting the body’s hormonal functions. The liver is an organ which is also particularly affected by these chemical substances because it transforms them to allow the body to eliminate them in the urine afterwards. And during this process of transformation, metabolic wastes are created, accumulate in the organ, and eventually lead to the death of many cells.

In their research, these Korean scientists exposed male mice to different amounts of these endocrine disruptors. They were thus able to observe that high exposure led to accumulation of lipids, triglycerides, and cholesterol in the liver, in addition to high blood sugar. They also found elevated levels of the enzyme aminotransferase, indicating liver damage.

Anti-inflammatory cytokines were also found to be exacerbated in mice exposed to endocrine disruptors, resulting in steatohepatitis, a condition in which excess fat builds up in the liver, causing cell death.

Finally, the scientists found a higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and progression of liver fibrosis due to increased deposition of collagen fibers.

Combined exposure to endocrine disruptors can increase overall intake, leading to significant health consequences”, Professor Pang insisted. The researchers hope that with these results, new regulations may gradually be put in place.

On the same topic, research published in Environmental Health Perspectives end of April 2022 showed a causal link between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (a chronic disease with increasing prevalence worldwide), and overexposure to PFAS. PFAS are perfluoroalkylated and polyfluoroalkylated chemical substances widely used in household products because they make objects non-flammable and waterproof: food packaging, clothing, cosmetics, etc.

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