New York, April 2 (IANS) Babies' exposure to common plastic compounds -- found in baby bottles and personal care products -- is likely to increase their risk of developing a fatty liver disease in adulthood, a study has showed.
In the study, conducted on rats, the researchers found that Bisphenol A (BPA) -- also known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals -- hijacks and reprogrammes genes in the liver to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It's a build-up of extra fat in liver cells leading to the scarring of the liver.
BPA was also found to increase the risk of reprogramming of the epigenome, a multitude of chemical compounds that can tell the genome what to do.
"The study found that NAFLD risk occurs via developmental reprogramming of the epigenome, which can persist throughout a lifetime. These persistent changes lead to alterations in gene expression in ways that correlate with increased disease susceptibility," said lead investigator, Lindsey Trevino, from Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, US.
"Understanding the mechanisms underlying this endocrine disruptor-mediated epigenomic reprogramming may lead to the identification of biomarkers for people at risk as well as possible interventions and therapeutics for NAFLD," Trevino added.
For the study, presented at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting in Orlando, the team treated newborn rats with low doses of BPA during the five days after birth -- a critical period of liver development.
The genes involved in the progression of NAFLD exhibited increased expression in the liver of the BPA-exposed rats, but not in control animals.
In addition, the BPA-exposed rats, that were fed a high-fat diet as adults showed increased liver weight and raised levels of total cholesterol, "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides.
"Our findings could be useful in other diseases as well. Because these endocrine disruptors are ubiquitous in the environment, a large portion of the population may be affected by developmental reprogramming," Trevino said.