Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption

Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:135-62. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-012110-142200.

Abstract

Synthetic chemicals currently used in a variety of industrial and agricultural applications are leading to widespread contamination of the environment. Even though the intended uses of pesticides, plasticizers, antimicrobials, and flame retardants are beneficial, effects on human health are a global concern. These so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. New in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological studies link human EDC exposure with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Here we review the main chemical compounds that may contribute to metabolic disruption. We then present their demonstrated or suggested mechanisms of action with respect to nuclear receptor signaling. Finally, we discuss the difficulties of fairly assessing the risks linked to EDC exposure, including developmental exposure, problems of high- and low-dose exposure, and the complexity of current chemical environments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis
  • Endocrine Disruptors / chemistry
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects

Substances

  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear