Bisphenol A (BPA) was examined for its effects on cultured Sertoli cells established from 18-day-old rat testes. We demonstrated that exposure of cultured Sertoli cells to BPA decreased the cell viability in a dose- and a time-dependent manner and that exposure to BPA brought about morphologic changes of the cells, such as membrane blebs, cell rounding, cytoskeletal collapse, and chromatin condensation or fragmentation, all of which conform to the morphologic criteria for apoptosis. Immunocytochemistry showed that active caspase-3, a major execution caspase, was expressed in round Sertoli cells positively labeled by the TUNEL method. Co-localization of active caspase-3 and aggregated actin fragments was also observed in the round Sertoli cells. Theses results suggest that BPA induces cell death of Sertoli cells by promoting apoptosis. Apoptosis-inducing cell death was observed in cells exposed to 150-200 μM BPA, while BPA at < 100 μM had only slight cytotoxic effects on the cells.
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