New insights into the endocrine disrupting effects of brominated flame retardants

Chemosphere. 2008 Sep;73(2):216-22. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.04.081. Epub 2008 Jul 29.


The objective of this review is to provide an overview of recent studies demonstrating the endocrine disrupting (ED) effects of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), while highlighting interesting data presented at the recent international BFR workshop in Amsterdam in April, 2007. A review written in 2002 was used as a starting point and about 60 publications published since 2003 were reviewed. New insights into the in vivo effects of BFRs on thyroid hormone, estrogen and androgen pathways in both mammalian and non-mammalian models are provided, and novel (in vitro) findings on the mechanisms underlying ED effects are highlighted. Special attention is also given to reports on neurotoxicological effects at relatively low doses of BFRs, although an endocrine-related mechanism is disputable. Convincing evidence has been published showing that BFRs and importantly, BFR metabolites, have the potential to disrupt endocrine systems at multiple target sites. While some studies suggest a wide margin of safety between effect concentrations in rodent models and levels encountered in humans and the environment, other studies demonstrate that exposure to low doses relevant for humans and wildlife at critical time points in development can result in profound effects on both endocrine pathways and (neuro)development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Flame Retardants / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / toxicity
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / toxicity


  • Androgens
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Estrogens
  • Flame Retardants
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls