Critical windows of development are often more sensitive to endocrine disruption. The murine pituitary gland has two critical windows of development: embryonic gland establishment and neonatal hormone cell expansion. During embryonic development, one environmentally ubiquitous endocrine-disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), has been shown to alter pituitary development by increasing proliferation and gonadotrope number in females but not males. However, the effects of exposure during the neonatal period have not been examined. Therefore, we dosed pups from postnatal day (PND)0 to PND7 with 0.05, 0.5, and 50 mg/kg/d BPA, environmentally relevant doses, or 50 mg/kg/d estradiol (E2). Mice were collected after dosing at PND7 and at 5 weeks. Dosing mice neonatally with BPA caused sex-specific gene expression changes distinct from those observed with embryonic exposure. At PND7, pituitary Pit1 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was decreased with BPA 0.05 and 0.5 mg/kg/d in males only. Expression of Pomc mRNA was decreased at 0.5 mg/kg/d BPA in males and at 0.5 and 50 mg/kg/d BPA in females. Similarly, E2 decreased Pomc mRNA in both males and females. However, no noticeable corresponding changes were found in protein expression. Both E2 and BPA suppressed Pomc mRNA in pituitary organ cultures; this repression appeared to be mediated by estrogen receptor-a and estrogen receptor-b in females and G protein–coupled estrogen receptor in males, as determined by estrogen receptor subtype-selective agonists. These data demonstrated that BPA exposure during neonatal pituitary development has unique sex-specific effects on gene expression and that Pomc repression in males and females can occur through different mechanisms.
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