Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and the regulation of energy balance

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2017 Sep;13(9):536-546. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2017.51. Epub 2017 May 19.


Energy balance involves the adjustment of food intake, energy expenditure and body fat reserves through homeostatic pathways. These pathways include a multitude of biochemical reactions, as well as hormonal cues. Dysfunction of this homeostatic control system results in common metabolism-related pathologies, which include obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism-disrupting chemicals (MDCs) are a particular class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect energy homeostasis. MDCs affect multiple endocrine mechanisms and thus different cell types that are implicated in metabolic control. MDCs affect gene expression and the biosynthesis of key enzymes, hormones and adipokines that are essential for controlling energy homeostasis. This multifaceted spectrum of actions precludes compensatory responses and favours metabolic disorders. Herein, we review the main mechanisms used by MDCs to alter energy balance. This work should help to identify new MDCs, as well as novel targets of their action.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Endocrine Disruptors / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / chemically induced
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Obesity
  • Thermogenesis


  • Adipokines
  • Endocrine Disruptors