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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2013, Article ID 501851, 14 pages
Review Article

Assessment and Molecular Actions of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals That Interfere with Estrogen Receptor Pathways

Institut de Recherche en Santé Environnement Travail (IRSET), INSERM U1085, TREC Team, SFR Biosit, University of Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France

Received 8 January 2013; Revised 26 March 2013; Accepted 28 March 2013

Academic Editor: Ewa Gregoraszczuk

Copyright © 2013 Gwenneg Kerdivel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In all vertebrate species, estrogens play a crucial role in the development, growth, and function of reproductive and nonreproductive tissues. A large number of natural or synthetic chemicals present in the environment and diet can interfere with estrogen signaling; these chemicals are called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) or xenoestrogens. Some of these compounds have been shown to induce adverse effects on human and animal health, and some compounds are suspected to contribute to diverse disease development. Because xenoestrogens have varying sources and structures and could act in additive or synergistic effects when combined, they have multiple mechanisms of action. Consequently, an important panel of in vivo and in vitro bioassays and chemical analytical tools was used to screen, evaluate, and characterize the potential impacts of these compounds on humans and animals. In this paper, we discuss different molecular actions of some of the major xenoestrogens found in food or the environment, and we summarize the current models used to evaluate environmental estrogens.