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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Estrogenic activity of octylphenol, nonylphenol, bisphenol A and methoxychlor in rats.

Considerable attention has recently been focused on environmental chemicals that disrupt the reproductive system by altering steroid receptor function. Although numerous in vitro and in vivo methods have been shown to be useful approaches for identifying chemicals that can disrupt reproduction through a direct interaction with the estrogen receptor, it is imperative that the protocols selected be capable of detecting chemicals with a broad range of estrogenic activity. Here we evaluate the reliability of the 3-day uterotrophic assay for detecting chemicals with strong or weak estrogenic activity in both prepubertal and ovariectomized adult Long Evans rats. These data were compared to additional measures of estrogenic activity, which included the age of vaginal opening, the induction of cornified vaginal epithelial cells in ovariectomized adult rats, and estrous cyclicity in intact adult rats. Test chemicals selected for these studies included 17-beta-estradiol, ethynyl estradiol, methoxychlor, 4-tert-octylphenol, 4-nonylphenol and bisphenol A. Data from in vitro receptor binding assays compared the ability of the test chemicals to compete with [3H]-estradiol or [3H]-promegestone for binding to estrogen or progesterone receptors. As expected, the binding affinities for the estrogen receptor ranged from high to low, as reflected by Ki concentrations of 0.4 nM for 17-beta-estradiol and ethynyl estradiol, and 0.05-65 microM for 4-tert-octyphenol, 4-nonylphenol, and methoxychlor. Although none of the test chemicals demonstrated a high affinity for binding to the progesterone receptor, 4-tert-octylphenol and 4-nonylphenol exhibited a weak affinity, with Ki concentrations ranging from 1.2 to 3.8 microM. In vivo studies indicated that the 3-day uterotrophic assay in prepubertal rats was the best method for detecting estrogenic activity when compared with all other end points, based upon the dose-response data for ethynyl estradiol (0.01-0.1 mg/kg), 4-tert-octylphenol (50-200 mg/kg, oral), and 4-nonylphenol (25-100 mg/kg, oral). Although oral doses of ethynyl estradiol (0.01 mg/kg) and 4-nonylphenol (50 mg/kg) induced a significant increase in uterine weight in the prepubertal rats, these doses were ineffective for stimulating a similar response in ovariectomized adult rats. The age of vaginal opening was advanced following oral exposure from postnatal days 21-35 to ethynyl estradiol (0.01 mg/kg), methoxychlor (50 mg/kg), 4-tert-octylphenol (200 mg/kg), and 4-nonylphenol (50 mg/kg). Although bisphenol A (200 mg/kg, oral) induced a significant uterotrophic response within 3 days in prepubertal rats, doses up to 400 mg/kg failed to advance the age of vaginal opening. Monitoring changes in the vaginal epithelium of ovariectomized adult rats was the least effective method for detecting estrogenic activity for 4-tert-octylphenol and bisphenol A. The number of 4-5 day estrous cycles was reduced during a 25-day exposure to ethynyl estradiol (0.01 mg/kg), methoxychlor (50 mg/ kg), 4-tert-octylphenol (200 mg/kg), 4-nonylphenol (100 mg/kg), and bisphenol A (100 mg/kg) by oral gavage. Although long periods of extended diestrus (7-14 days) were generally correlated with exposure to ethynyl estradiol and 4-tert-octylphenol, the cycling patterns following exposure to methoxychlor, 4-nonylphenol and bisphenol A were not as clearly defined, with shorter periods of extended diestrus (4-7 days) and/or estrus (3-5 days) intermittently observed throughout the exposure period. Together these data provide a comparison of the 3-day uterotrophic assay with alternative measures of estrogenic activity for a group of test chemicals with a broad range of affinities for the estrogen receptor. These data can be useful during the assessment and validation of methods for screening environmental chemicals for endocrine disrupting activity.[1]


  1. Estrogenic activity of octylphenol, nonylphenol, bisphenol A and methoxychlor in rats. Laws, S.C., Carey, S.A., Ferrell, J.M., Bodman, G.J., Cooper, R.L. Toxicol. Sci. (2000) [Pubmed]
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