Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs): In Vitro Mechanism of Estrogenic Activation and Differential Effects on ER Target Genes

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Apr;121(4):459-66. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205951. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Abstract

Background: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) influence the activity of estrogen receptors (ERs) and alter the function of the endocrine system. However, the diversity of EDC effects and mechanisms of action are poorly understood.

Objectives: We examined the agonistic activity of EDCs through ERα and ERβ. We also investigated the effects of EDCs on ER-mediated target genes.

Methods: HepG2 and HeLa cells were used to determine the agonistic activity of EDCs on ERα and ERβ via the luciferase reporter assay. Ishikawa cells stably expressing ERα were used to determine changes in endogenous ER target gene expression by EDCs.

Results: Twelve EDCs were categorized into three groups on the basis of product class and similarity of chemical structure. As shown by luciferase reporter analysis, the EDCs act as ER agonists in a cell type- and promoter-specific manner. Bisphenol A, bisphenol AF, and 2-2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (group 1) strongly activated ERα estrogen responsive element (ERE)-mediated responses. Daidzein, genistein, kaempferol, and coumestrol (group 2) activated both ERα and ERβ ERE-mediated activities. Endosulfan and kepone (group 3) weakly activated ERα. Only a few EDCs significantly activated the "tethered" mechanism via ERα or ERβ. Results of real-time polymerase chain reaction indicated that bisphenol A and bisphenol AF consistently activated endogenous ER target genes, but the activities of other EDCs on changes of ER target gene expression were compound specific.

Conclusion: Although EDCs with similar chemical structures (in the same group) tended to have comparable ERα and ERβ ERE-mediated activities, similar chemical structure did not correlate with previously reported ligand binding affinities of the EDCs. Using ERα-stable cells, we observed that EDCs differentially induced activity of endogenous ER target genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / agonists*
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / agonists*
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction

Substances

  • ESR1 protein, human
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Luciferases