Influence of exogenous estrogen receptor ligands on uterine leiomyoma: evidence from an in vitro/in vivo animal model for uterine fibroids

Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Oct;108 Suppl 5:829-34. doi: 10.1289/ehp.00108s5829.


The remarkable frequency of uterine leiomyoma in the human population calls into question the potential for the participation of environmental factors in tumor etiology. Having been implicated in the dramatic rise in hormone-related cancers in recent years, endocrine disruptors are salient suspects in this pathogenesis, although the mechanism by which they might participate is unclear. Investigations using the Eker rat model show that uterine leiomyoma may have an enhanced sensitivity to modulation via the estrogen receptor. This sensitivity could make these tumors a target for disruption by exogenous estrogen receptor ligands. Direct evidence for a pathogenic role of exogenous compounds in leiomyomas is lacking; however, it can be demonstrated that such diverse agents as organochlorine pesticides, dietary flavonoids, botanical extracts, and therapeutic antiestrogens have either estrogen agonist or antagonist function in myometrial tissues. The use of this model will help define the impact of exogenous estrogen receptor modulators on uterine leiomyoma and will permit the evaluation of strategies for therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / chemically induced*
  • Leiomyoma / epidemiology
  • Leiomyoma / therapy
  • Neoplasms, Experimental
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Estrogen / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Uterine Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects


  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Xenobiotics