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

Effect of toxaphene on estrogen receptor functions in human breast cancer cells.

Toxaphene (polychlorinated camphenes) is an insecticidal mixture of >670 chemicals, which was widely used until the mid 1980s. Due to their lipophilic and volatile nature, these chemicals accumulate in animal and human tissues and continue to be a major contaminant in marine and freshwater biota. Cytotoxic and genotoxic effects in mammalian test systems suggest that toxaphene is a carcinogen and reports support the hypothesis that toxaphene could have tumor-promoting potential in human breast tissue. In order to examine the potential of toxaphene as an environmental endocrine disrupter, we investigated its effect on the estrogen receptor (ER) function in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Using transient gene expression experiments, we observed approximately 60% and 80% inhibition of the constitutive and 17beta-estradiol induced ER-dependent transactivation, respectively. The involvement of the ER in the ability of toxaphene to block the estrogen action was verified by cotransfection studies in ER-negative MDA-MB-231 cells. The interference of toxaphene with the ER mediated responses was supported by a significant suppression of endogenously expressed pS2 RNA and decreased levels of secreted pS2 protein. These reproducible results indicate that toxaphene can disturb hormonal signals mediated by the ER and suggest that these environmental chemicals have potential endocrine disrupting activities which may affect the reproductive health and increase the risk of carcinogenesis.[1]


  1. Effect of toxaphene on estrogen receptor functions in human breast cancer cells. Bonefeld Jørgensen, E.C., Autrup, H., Hansen, J.C. Carcinogenesis (1997) [Pubmed]
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