Prenatal exposure to phenols and dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis in the BiSC (Barcelona, Spain) and SEPAGES (Grenoble, France) cohorts

We have recently started the analysis of the data collected under the HyPAXE project co-led by Dr. Claire Philippat (INSERM, Grenoble, France) and Prof. Jordi Sunyer (ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain) and funded by the French Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire Alimentaire Nationale (ANSES). One of the aims of this project is to explore the associations between pregnancy exposure to endocrine disruptors, such as synthetic phenols, and dysregulation of the functioning of the maternal hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis.

Synthetic phenols are used in the manufacture of a variety of household items and personal care products. Some are endocrine disruptors that may interact with human hormonal system and affect physical or mental health. For example, recent in vitro and human studies have suggested that bisphenol A (a phenol primarily used in the manufacturing of various plastics) can interact with the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, which involves the central nervous system and the endocrine system adjusting the balance of hormones in response to stress.

In our study, we relied on maternal hair samples collected during pregnancy or at birth in which we assessed cortisol (among other stress hormones), a key glucocorticoid stress hormone that is secreted in basal and stressful contexts. Such study design will provide a long-term secretory patterns of stress hormones and allow for better understanding of the associations between pregnancy exposure to phenols and the HPA axis functioning. In the future, we will also investigate how maternal exposure to phenols during pregnancy affects child neurodevelopment.

Aims of the HYPAXE project:


This post has been written by Paulina Alicja Jedynak, postdoctoral fellow at the BiSC Project.