Endocrine disruptors are man-made chemicals that can disrupt the synthesis, circulating levels, and peripheral action of hormones. The disruption of sex hormones was subject of intensive research, but thyroid hormone synthesis and signaling are now also recognized as important targets of endocrine disruptors. The neurological development of mammals is largely dependent on normal thyroid hormone homeostasis, and it is likely to be particularly sensitive to disruption of the thyroid axis. Here, we survey the main thyroid-disrupting chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, perchlorates, and brominated flame-retardants, that are characteristic disruptors of thyroid hormone homeostasis, and look at their suspected relationships to impaired development of the human central nervous system. The review then focuses on disrupting mechanisms known to be directly or indirectly related to the transcriptional activity of the thyroid hormone receptors.
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