Endocrine disrupting contaminants--beyond the dogma

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Apr;114 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):9-12. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8045.


Descriptions of endocrine disruption have largely been associated with wildlife and driven by observations documenting estrogenic, androgenic, antiandrogenic, and antithyroid actions. These actions, in response to exposure to ecologically relevant concentrations of various environmental contaminants, have now been established in numerous vertebrate species. However, many potential mechanisms and endocrine actions have not been studied. For example, the DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane] metabolite, p,p -DDE [1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene] is known to disrupt prostaglandin synthesis in the uterus of birds, providing part of the explanation for DDT-induced egg shell thinning. Few studies have examined prostaglandin synthesis as a target for endocrine disruption, yet these hormones are active in reproduction, immune responses, and cardiovascular physiology. Future studies must broaden the basic science approach to endocrine disruption, thereby expanding the mechanisms and endocrine end points examined. This goal should be accomplished even if the primary influence and funding continue to emphasize a narrower approach based on regulatory needs. Without this broader approach, research into endocrine disruption will become dominated by a narrow dogma, focusing on a few end points and mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Progestins / physiology
  • Prostaglandins / pharmacology
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Uterus / drug effects


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Estrogens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Progestins
  • Prostaglandins
  • Receptors, Steroid