Human exposure to synthetic endocrine disrupting chemicals (S-EDCs) is generally negligible as compared to natural compounds with higher or comparable endocrine activity: How to evaluate the risk of the S-EDCs?

Herman Autrup, Frank A. Barile, Sir Colin Berry, Bas J. Blaauboer, Alan Boobis, Herrmann Bolt, Christopher J. Borgert, Wolfgang Dekant, Daniel Dietrich, Jose L. Domingo, Gio Batta Gori, Helmut Greim*, Jan Hengstler, Sam Kacew, Hans Marquardt, Olavi Pelkonen, Kai Savolainen, Pat Heslop-Harrison, Nico P. Vermeulen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalEditorialAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Theoretically, both synthetic endocrine disrupting chemicals (S-EDCs) and natural (exogenous and endogenous) endocrine disrupting chemicals (N-EDCs) can interact with endocrine receptors and disturb hormonal balance. However, compared to endogenous hormones, S-EDCs are only weak partial agonists with receptor affinities several orders of magnitude lower. Thus, to elicit observable effects, S-EDCs require considerably higher concentrations to attain sufficient receptor occupancy or to displace natural hormones and other endogenous ligands. Significant exposures to exogenous N-EDCs may result from ingestion of foods such as soy-based diets, green tea and sweet mustard. While their potencies are lower as compared to natural endogenous hormones, they usually are considerably more potent than S-EDCs. Effects of exogenous N-EDCs on the endocrine system were observed at high dietary intakes. A causal relation between their mechanism of action and these effects is established and biologically plausible. In contrast, the assumption that the much lower human exposures to S-EDCs may induce observable endocrine effects is not plausible. Hence, it is not surprising that epidemiological studies searching for an association between S-EDC exposure and health effects have failed. Regarding testing for potential endocrine effects, a scientifically justified screen should use in vitro tests to compare potencies of S-EDCs with those of reference N-EDCs. When the potency of the S-EDC is similar or smaller than that of the N-EDC, further testing in laboratory animals and regulatory consequences are not warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109099
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
Volume326
Early online date1 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Risk characterisation
  • Testing

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