Polluted Pathways: Mechanisms of Metabolic Disruption by Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Curr Environ Health Rep. 2017 Jun;4(2):208-222. doi: 10.1007/s40572-017-0137-0.


Purpose of review: Environmental toxicants are increasingly implicated in the global decline in metabolic health. Focusing on diabetes, herein, the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which metabolism disrupting chemicals (MDCs) impair energy homeostasis are discussed.

Recent findings: Emerging data implicate MDC perturbations in a variety of pathways as contributors to metabolic disease pathogenesis, with effects in diverse tissues regulating fuel utilization. Potentiation of traditional metabolic risk factors, such as caloric excess, and emerging threats to metabolism, such as disruptions in circadian rhythms, are important areas of current and future MDC research. Increasing evidence also implicates deleterious effects of MDCs on metabolic programming that occur during vulnerable developmental windows, such as in utero and early post-natal life as well as pregnancy. Recent insights into the mechanisms by which MDCs alter energy homeostasis will advance the field's ability to predict interactions with classical metabolic disease risk factors and empower studies utilizing targeted therapeutics to treat MDC-mediated diabetes.

Keywords: Diabetes; EDCs; Endocrine disruptor; Glucose intolerance; Insulin resistance; MDCs; Metabolic syndrome; Metabolism; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy


  • Endocrine Disruptors