Evidence of harmful effect of bisphenol A-based plastics

January 10, 2014
Bisphenol A binds to the switch protein K-Ras, which is vital for cell growth processes and plays a role in tumourigenesis. Credit: RUB/Miriam Schöpel

Bisphenol A impairs the function of proteins that are vital for growth processes in cells. This finding has been reported by researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Wuppertal. The substance, short BPA, is contained in many plastic products and is suspected of being hazardous to health. To date, it had been assumed that bisphenol A produces a harmful effect by binding to hormone receptors. The chemist and biochemist team has discovered that the substance also affects the so-called small GTPases. They published their findings in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Complex mechanism of action

"Our research provides further evidence that the physiological effects of A may be even more complex than previously assumed," says Prof Dr Raphael Stoll, head of Biomolecular Spectroscopy at the Ruhr-Universität. "However, we have also discovered other related compounds that indicate which path the future development of pharmaceutically effective substances against GTPase-mediated tumours may take," adds synthetic chemist Prof Dr Jürgen Scherkenbeck from Wuppertal.

Bisphenol A impairs the function of GTPases

Small GTPases are enzymes that occur in two states within the cell: in the active form when bound to the GTP molecule; and in the inactive form when bound to GDP, a lower-energy form of GTP. These switch proteins are crucial for transmitting signals within the cell. The researchers have demonstrated that bisphenol A binds to two different small GTPases, K-Ras and H-Ras, thereby preventing the exchange of GDP for GTP. The non-profit organisation German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe e. V.) has financed the project since 2011.

Bisphenol A is a suspected health hazard

Various organisations have pointed out that bisphenol A may be hazardous to health: the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikoforschung), the European Food Safety Authority, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US-American Breast Cancer Foundation. However, those organisations have not yet provided a final assessment of the substance's hazardous potential. Nevertheless, the European Commission banned the use of bisphenol A in the manufacture of baby bottles in 2011. Academic studies indicate that the substance may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast and prostate cancer as well as neuronal diseases. The researchers therefore recommend a restriction of bisphenol A-based plastic containers for food products.

Explore further: Plastic chemical may expose foetuses to cancer (Update)

More information: M. Schöpel, K.F.G. Jockers, P.M. Düppe, J. Autzen, V.N. Potheraveedu, S. Ince, K. Tuo Yip, R. Heumann, C. Herrmann, J. Scherkenbeck , R. Stoll (2013): "Bisphenol A binds to Ras proteins and competes with Guanine Nucleotide exchange: implications for GTPase-selective antagonists," Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 56(23):9664-72; DOI: 10.1021/jm401291q

Related Stories

Plastic chemical may expose foetuses to cancer (Update)

April 9, 2013
France said Tuesday it would call for Europe-wide controls on a paper product containing bisphenol A after a watchdog agency said the widely-used chemical may expose unborn children to breast cancer later in life.

Researchers discover adverse effects of Bisphenol A on calcium channels

December 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Bisphenol A, a substance found in many synthetic products, is considered to be harmful, particularly, for fetuses and babies. Researchers from the University of Bonn have now shown in experiments on cells ...

France bans contested chemical BPA in food packaging

December 13, 2012
The French parliament voted Thursday to ban the use of bisphenol A, a chemical thought to have a toxic effect on the brain and nervous system, in baby food packaging next year and all food containers in 2015.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.