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Toxicol Sci. 2001 Apr;60(2):296-304.

Defining the impact of weakly estrogenic chemicals on the action of steroidal estrogens.

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  • 1Centre for Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, United Kingdom.


We tested whether bisphenol A (BPA) or o,p'-DDT, when combined with 17beta-estradiol (E2), would contribute to the overall mixture effect using a yeast reporter gene assay, the yeast estrogen screen. Following comprehensive concentration-response analyses of the single agents, the pharmacologically well-founded models of concentration addition and independent action were used to predict entire concentration-response relationships for mixtures of the agents with a variety of fixed mixture ratios, assuming additivity. For molar mixture ratios proportional to the levels normally found in human tissues (i.e., below 1:5000, E2:BPA or o,p'-DDT), these predictions suggest that the effects of individual xenoestrogens are too weak to create an impact on the actions of steroidal hormones. However, at mixture ratios more in favor of the xenoestrogens, a significant contribution to the overall mixture effect was predicted. The predictions were tested experimentally. The observed combined effects of mixtures of E2 with either BPA or o,p'-DDT did not deviate from the additivity expectation. On combining E2 with either BPA or o,p'-DDT at approximately equieffective concentrations corresponding to molar mixture ratios between 1:20,000 and 1:100,000 (E2:BPA or o,p'-DDT), substantial modulations of the effects of E2 became discernible. The assumption that weak xenoestrogens are generally unable to create an impact upon the already strong effects of endogenous steroidal estrogens is not supported by our observations. Our studies indicate that the potential health implication of additive combination effects between xenoestrogens and steroidal estrogens deserve serious consideration.

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