Problems for risk assessment of endocrine-active estrogenic compounds. Academic Article uri icon


  • Estrogenic industrial compounds such as bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol typically bind estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ERBeta and induce transactivation of estrogen-responsive genes/reporter genes, but their potencies are usually greater than or equal to 1,000-fold lower than observed for 17Beta-estradiol. Risk assessment of estrogenic compounds on the basis of their potencies in simple reporter gene or binding assays may be inappropriate. For example, selective ER modulators (SERMs) represent another class of synthetic estrogens being developed for treatment of hormone-dependent problems. SERMs differentially activate wild-type ERalpha and variant forms expressing activation function 1 (ER-AF1) and AF2 (ER-AF2) in human HepG2 hepatoma cells transfected with an estrogen-responsive complement C3 promoter-luciferase construct, and these in vitro differences reflect their unique in vivo biologies. The HepG2 cell assay has also been used in our laboratories to investigate the estrogenic activities of the following structurally diverse synthetic and phytoestrogens: 4 -hydroxytamoxifen; BPA; 2 ,4 ,6 -trichloro-4-biphenylol; 2 ,3 ,4 ,5 -tetrachloro-4-biphenylol; p-t-octylphenol; p-nonylphenol; naringenin; kepone; resveratrol; and 2,2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane. The results show that synthetic and phytoestrogens are weakly estrogenic but induce distinct patterns of ER agonist/antagonist activities that are cell context- and promoter-dependent, suggesting that these compounds will induce tissue-specific (in vivo(ER agonist or antagonist activities. These results suggest that other receptors, such as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, that also bind structurally diverse ligands may exhibit unique responses in vivo that are not predicted by standard in vitro bioassays.

published proceedings

  • Environ Health Perspect

author list (cited authors)

  • Safe, S. H., Pallaroni, L., Yoon, K., Gaido, K., Ross, S., & McDonnell, D.

citation count

  • 84

complete list of authors

  • Safe, Stephen H||Pallaroni, Lea||Yoon, Kyungsil||Gaido, Kevin||Ross, Susan||McDonnell, Donald

publication date

  • December 2002