DEHP, bis(2)-ethylhexyl phthalate, alters gene expression in human cells: possible correlation with initiation of fetal developmental abnormalities. Academic Article uri icon


  • Diethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) is a widely distributed phthalate, to which humans are exposed to due to its variety of commercial and manufacturing uses. As a plasticiser, it is found in a wide number of products, and metabolites of DEHP have been detected in urine samples from a high percentage of the people screened for phthalates. We utilised DNA microarray analysis to evaluate DEHP for gene expression disrupting activity using the human cell line MCF-7, and found that DEHP significantly dysregulated approximately 34% of the 2400 genes spotted on the NEN2400 chip we used. The results suggest that DEHP, a known estrogen agonist and probable androgen antagonist, alters the expression of a number of genes, many of which are critical for fetal development. Down-regulation of two genes, FGD1 and PAFAH1B1, related in that both are essential for fetal brain development, was corroborated using quantitative real time PCR. These studies show DEHP to be a highly effective human gene expression-altering chemical, and that, at appropriate concentrations, it has the possibility of altering fetal central nervous system development, resulting in the birth defects lissencephaly and/or faciodigitogenital dysplasia.

published proceedings

  • Hum Exp Toxicol

author list (cited authors)

  • Hokanson, R., Hanneman, W., Hennessey, M., Donnelly, K. C., McDonald, T., Chowdhary, R., & Busbee, D. L.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Hokanson, R||Hanneman, W||Hennessey, M||Donnelly, KC||McDonald, T||Chowdhary, R||Busbee, DL

publication date

  • December 2006