Environmental chemical blocks cell function


Environmental chemical bisphenol A blocks cell function

The bisphenol A contained in many plastic products has been suspected for many years of having harmful effects. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now demonstrated in experiments on tissue samples from mice and humans that the environmental chemical blocks the calcium channels in the cell membranes.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and synthetic resins. "According to recent findings, the substance can influence the hormone balance and impair the function of enzymes and transport proteins," reports Prof. Dr. Dieter Swandulla from the University of Bonn. The substance is said to be associated with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and neurological disorders.

Bisphenol A blocks important calcium channels
The research team now found that BPA reversibly blocks calcium channels that are important for cell function in the cell membrane. Calcium flows into the living cells through these pore-like so-called channel proteins, which controls the contraction of cardiac muscle cells, the activity of enzymes and the communication between nerve cells. Since the binding of bisphenol A to the calcium channel is reversible, there is at least the possibility that the chemical is excreted by the body.

Chemical ubiquitous However, bisphenol A and related substances can now be measured almost everywhere in the environment: e.g. in CDs, banknotes, shopping lists, cans, tooth fillings and flame retardants, but also in the air we breathe and in house dust. "It would therefore be desirable to completely shut down the production of BPA," says Prof. Swandulla. Source: Bisphenol A inhibits voltage-activated Ca2 + channels in vitro: mechanisms and structural requirements, "Molecular Pharmacology", DOI: 10.1124 / mol.112.081372. (BdH)

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Photo credit: Rolf van Melis /Pixelio.de.

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