Play behavior affected by early administration of diethylstilbestrol during development

EDCs are able to influence the development of the brain during a critical period, resulting in long-term effects on behavior

2005 Study Abstract

Play behavior is affected by alteration of the hormonal environment during development. In fact, congenital adrenal hyperplasia or early administration of diethylstilbestrol are able to modify female play behavior in mammals.

Early exposure to a low dose of bisphenol A affects socio-sexual behavior of juvenile female rats, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Brain research bulletin, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 15811590, 2005 Apr.

Image credit Philippa Willitts.

In this research, play behavior of female rats was used to explore the effects of perinatal exposure to low, environmentally relevant dose of bisphenol A (BPA), a xenoestrogen widely diffused in the environment.

We used 18 females born to mothers exposed to 40 microg/kg/day BPA during pregnancy and lactation, and 18 control females. The subjects were observed in a heterosexual social situation from 35 to 55 days of age.

Six main behaviors were identified by principal component analysis (PCA): exploration, defensive behavior to males, play behavior with males, play behavior with females, low-intensity mating behavior, social grooming. Early administration of BPA was responsible for a significant increase of exploration (including social investigation) (p<0.001), as well as a decrease of play with males (p<0.02) and social grooming (p<0.01) at 45 days of age, indicating a general decrease of playful interactions.

In general our results suggest that BPA does not induce a clear masculinization of female behavior, but is able however to defeminize some aspects of female behavior. This result is compatible with the estrogenic properties of BPA, and suggests caution in the use of a chemical that, in the range of human exposure, is able to influence the development of the brain during a critical period, resulting in long-term effects on behavior.

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