The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has dramatically increased worldwide during the last few decades. While lifestyle factors, such as decreased physical activity and energy-dense diets, together with genetic predisposition, are well-known actors in the pathophysiology of T2D, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that the increased presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the environment, such as bisphenol A, phthalates and persistent organic pollutants, may also explain an important part in the incidence of metabolic diseases (the metabolic syndrome, obesity and T2D). EDCs are found in everyday products (including plastic bottles, metal cans, toys, cosmetics and pesticides) and used in the manufacture of food. They interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, activity and elimination of natural hormones. Such interferences can block or mimic hormone actions and thus induce a wide range of adverse effects (developmental, reproductive, neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and immune). In this review, both in vivo and in vitro experimental data and epidemiological evidence to support an association between EDC exposure and the induction of insulin resistance and/or disruption of pancreatic β-cell function are summarized, while the epidemiological links with disorders of glucose homoeostasis are also discussed.
Keywords: Bisphenol A; Diabetes; Endocrine disruptors; Oestrogens; Pollutants; Type 2 diabetes.
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