Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Introduction to the Theme


Background: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are natural or synthetic compounds deriving from different human activities and are widely spread into the environment, contributing to indoor and outdoor pollution. EDCs may be conveyed by food and water consumption and skin, airways, placental, and breastfeeding. Upon entering the circulation, they can interfere with endocrine system homeostasis by several mechanisms.

Aim: In this narrative review, the authors overviewed the leading mechanisms by which EDCs interact and disrupt the endocrine system, leading to possible human health concerns.

Results: The leading mechanisms of EDCs-related toxicity have been illustrated in in vitro studies and animal models and may be summarized as follows: receptor agonism and antagonism; modulation of hormone receptor expression; interference with signal transduction in hormone-responsive cells; epigenetic modifications in hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells; interference with hormone synthesis; interference with hormone transport across cell membranes; interference with hormone metabolism or clearance; interference with the destiny of hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells.

Discussion: Despite these well-defined mechanisms, some limitations do not allow for conclusive assumptions. Indeed, epidemiological and ecological studies are currently lacking and usually refer to a specific cluster of patients (occupational exposure). Methodological aspects could further complicate the issue since these studies could require a long time to provide useful information. The lack of a real unexposed group in environmental conditions, possible interference of EDCs mixture on biological results, and unpredictable dose-response curves for some EDCs should also be considered significant limitations.

Conclusion: Given these limitations, specific observational and long-term studies are needed to identify at-risk populations for adequate treatment of exposed patients and effective prevention plans against excessive exposure to EDCs.

Authors: Giuseppe Lisco, Vito Angelo Giagulli, Michele Iovino, Edoardo Guastamacchia, Giovanni De Pergola, Vincenzo Triggiani
; Full Source: Endocrine, metabolic & immune disorders drug targets 2021 Apr 13. doi: 10.2174/1871530321666210413124425.