During development the fetus is exposed to the internal chemical environment of the mother and as a result is exposed to the same chemicals the mother is exposed to daily. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in receipts, linings of food cans, and dental sealants and is known to leach into food and water and affect human health. As a result of its prevalence, pregnant mothers are exposed to this chemical daily and therefore their developing fetus is exposed to this chemical in utero. Additionally, exposure to a stressor drastically changes the internal chemical makeup in animals and therefore can effect the environment of the developing fetus. Independently, prenatal exposure to BPA as well as stress decreases learning and memory, and increases anxiety. This study examined the combined effects of prenatal exposure to BPA+stress on learning, memory, and anxiety in rats. Three groups of rodents were used in this study: BPA, stress, and BPA+stress. BPA was administered daily at a dose of 5 mg/kg of body weight per day during pregnancy. Stress was administered via restraint stress for a total of an hour daily during pregnancy. Pups were tested at six weeks of age in the morris water maze, elevated plus maze, and light dark box. NR2B NMDA receptor subunit levels were analyzed using western blotting, as these receptors are critical to the cellular mechanism of learning and memory, Long Term Potentiation. The combined BPA+stress group exhibited no further deficits in learning than the stress group, which showed greater deficits than the BPA group. There was no effect of BPA, stress, or the combination of BPA+stress on anxiety or NR2B NMDA receptor subunit levels. Based on the results of this study it seems as though there are no additive effects of combined BPA and stress prenatal exposure on learning, memory, and anxiety.


Lynn, Sharon




Behavioral Neurobiology


Neuroscience, Biology, Bisphenol A, Prenatal Stress

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Hannah M. Olson