Persistent DDT metabolite p,p'-DDE is a potent androgen receptor antagonist

Nature. 1995 Jun 15;375(6532):581-5. doi: 10.1038/375581a0.


The increase in the number of reports of abnormalities in male sex development in wildlife and humans coincided with the introduction of 'oestrogenic' chemicals such as DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane) into the environment. Although these phenotypic alterations are thought to be mediated by the oestrogen receptor, they are also consistent with inhibition of androgen receptor-mediated events. Here we report that the major and persistent DDT metabolite, p,p'-DDE (1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene), has little ability to bind the oestrogen receptor, but inhibits androgen binding to the androgen receptor, androgen-induced transcriptional activity, and androgen action in developing, pubertal and adult male rats. The results suggest that abnormalities in male sex development induced by p,p'-DDE and related environmental chemicals may be mediated at the level of the androgen receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / toxicity*
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists*
  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cell Line
  • DDT / metabolism
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / chemistry
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / metabolism
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / toxicity*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Structure
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT