Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Type 1 Diabetes

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 22;21(8):2937. doi: 10.3390/ijms21082937.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the most common chronic metabolic disease in children and adolescents. The etiology of T1D is not fully understood but it seems multifactorial. The genetic background determines the predisposition to develop T1D, while the autoimmune process against β-cells seems to be also determined by environmental triggers, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Environmental EDCs may act throughout different temporal windows as single chemical agent or as chemical mixtures. They could affect the development and the function of the immune system or of the β-cells function, promoting autoimmunity and increasing the susceptibility to autoimmune attack. Human studies evaluating the potential role of exposure to EDCs on the pathogenesis of T1D are few and demonstrated contradictory results. The aim of this narrative review is to summarize experimental and epidemiological studies on the potential role of exposure to EDCs in the development of T1D. We highlight what we know by animals about EDCs' effects on mechanisms leading to T1D development and progression. Studies evaluating the EDC levels in patients with T1D were also reported. Moreover, we discussed why further studies are needed and how they should be designed to better understand the causal mechanisms and the next prevention interventions.

Keywords: bisphenol A; endocrine disruptors; non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice; pesticides; phthalates; polychlorinated biphenyls; polyfluorinated substances; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Studies as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / classification
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Humans


  • Endocrine Disruptors