A tooth enamel abnormality in children, molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), may result from exposure to the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), authors of a new study conclude after finding similar damage to the dental enamel of rats that received BPA. The study results will be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society's 97th annual meeting in San Diego.
In the first part of the study, Sylvie Babajko, PhD, a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris, and her colleagues gave rats low doses of BPA, comparable to exposure in humans. The rats received BPA from fetal life to 30 days after birth. She said BPA caused enamel defects similar to MIH in humans, especially in male rats.
In part 2 of the study, the investigators cultured and looked at rat ameloblast cells, which are present only during the formation of tooth enamel, called amelogenesis. In humans, amelogenesis takes place from the third trimester of fetal development to 3 or 4 years after birth. This cell-based experiment showed that sex hormones target and influence dental epithelial cells.
“Our study shows, for the first time, that BPA affects dental cells, and subsequently enamel synthesis, using similar target molecules as those present in other organs,” Babajko said.
Babajko reported that an increase in estrogen activity had a greater effect on the tooth enamel in male rats than in female rats. This finding, she said, suggests possible sexual differences in enamel quality.
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