Characterization of potential endocrine-related health effects at low-dose levels of exposure to PCBs

Environ Health Perspect. 1999 Aug;107 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):639-49. doi: 10.1289/ehp.99107s4639.


This article addresses issues related to the characterization of endocrine-related health effects resulting from low-level exposures to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). It is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the literature but reflects workshop discussions. "The Characterizing the Effects of Endocrine Disruptors on Human Health at Environmental Exposure Levels," workshop provided a forum to discuss the methods and data needed to improve risk assessments of endocrine disruptors. This article contains an overview of endocrine-related (estrogen and thyroid system) interactions and other low-dose effects of PCBs. The data set on endocrine effects includes results obtained from mechanistic methods/ and models (receptor based, metabolism based, and transport protein based), as well as from (italic)in vivo(/italic) models, including studies with experimental animals and wildlife species. Other low-dose effects induced by PCBs, such as neurodevelopmental and reproductive effects and endocrine-sensitive tumors, have been evaluated with respect to a possible causative linkage with PCB-induced alterations in endocrine systems. In addition, studies of low-dose exposure and effects in human populations are presented and critically evaluated. A list of conclusions and recommendations is included.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Animals, Wild
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endocrine System / drug effects*
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / pharmacokinetics
  • Public Health*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Estrogen / drug effects
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls