Endocrine disruptors alter social behaviors and indirectly influence social hierarchies via changes in body weight.
Environ Health. 2015 ;14(1):64. Epub 2015 Aug 5. PMID: 26242739
BACKGROUND: In humans, the causal link between socioeconomic status (SES) and body weight (BW) is bidirectional, as chronic stress associated with low SES may increase risk of obesity and excess weight may worsen career opportunities resulting in lower SES. We hypothesize that environmental factors affecting BW and/or social stress might reprogram physiological and social trajectories of individuals.
OBJECTIVES: To analyze interactions between BW and social behaviors in mice perinatally exposed to one of several environmental endocrine disruptors.
METHODS: CD-1 mice were fed 0.2 mg/kg BW/day tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), 2,2,4,4-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47), bisphenol S (BPS), or oil (vehicle) from pregnancy day 8 through postpartum day 21. Three male offspring (triad) from each litter were housed together until week 15 and subjected to a Sociability Test and Tube Tests. Cages were then rearranged so that animals of the same social rank from the four exposure groups were housed together in tetrads. Social hierarchy in tetrads was again analyzed by Tube Tests.
RESULTS: In Sociability Tests, the mean velocity of all exposed animals increased when they encountered a stranger mouse and less time was spent with conspecifics. BW and social dominance of animals in triads and tetrads were inversely associated. BDE-47 and BPS caused transient decreases in BW.
CONCLUSIONS: Developmental exposure to environmental xenobiotics shifted behavior towards increased anxiety and decreased interest in social interactions. Our mouse model reproduces negative associations between social hierarchy status and BW. These results suggest that manipulation of BW by endocrine disruptors may affect social ranking.