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Toxicol Sci. 2002 Oct;69(2):362-72.

In vitro antiestrogenic effects of aryl methyl sulfone metabolites of polychlorinated biphenyls and 2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethene on 17beta-estradiol-induced gene expression in several bioassay systems.

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht University, NL-3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Methylsulfonyl (MeSO(2)) metabolites of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethene (4,4'-DDE), itself a metabolite of the insecticide 4,4'-DDT, are emerging as a major class of contaminants in the tissues of wildlife and humans. We investigated the antiestrogenic capacity and potencies of 3'- and 4'-MeSO(2)-2,2',4,5,5'-pentachlorobiphenyl (CB101) and -2,2',4,5'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (CB49), which are among the most environmentally persistent MeSO(2)-PCBs, and 3-MeSO(2)-4,4'-DDE on estrogen receptor (ER)-dependent gene expression in four cell-based bioassay systems. Congener- and concentration-dependent antagonism of 17beta-estradiol (E2)-induced gene expression, rather than induction of ER-dependent gene expression, was observed for the MeSO(2)-PCBs on lucifierase activity in stably transfected human breast adenocarcinoma T47D cells (ER-CALUX) and vitellogenin (vtg) production in primary hepatocytes from male carp fish (Cyprinus carpio) (CARP-HEP/vtg). 4'-MeSO(2)-CB101 and -CB49 had the highest antagonistic potency (i.e., maximum inhibition of about 70%, LOECs of 1.0 microM and 2.5 microM), whereas 3'-MeSO(2)-CB101 and -CB49 were less antagonistic; the precursor CB101 and MeSO(2)-PCB analog MeSO(2)-2,5-dichlorobenzene had no effect. Relative to the 4-MeSO(2)-PCBs, tamoxifen (IC(50), 0.06 microM and 0.7 microM) was about 40 and 7 times more potent in the ER-CALUX and CARP-HEP/vtg assays, respectively. Congener- and concentration-dependent effects on aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated induction of EROD activity (carp hepatocytes), luciferase expression (H4IIE rat hepatoma [H4IIE.luc] cell line), or cell viability were not observed. 3-MeSO(2)-4,4'-DDE was neither estrogenic nor antiestrogenic in either of the bioassays. Inhibitory trends for the MeSO(2)-PCBs in a bioassay based on stably transfected human embryonic kidney cell (HEK293-ERalpha-ERE) were similar to the ER-CALUX and CARP-HEP/vtg bioassays, whereas the antagonism was weaker in a related HEK293-ERbeta-ERE bioassay. Our findings suggest that the 4'-MeSO(2)-PCBs are antiestrogenic in vitro via a reversible or surmountable interaction with fish or human ER, and that the interaction with human ERalpha is apparently favored over ERbeta. MeSO(2)-PCB metabolites are persistent and bioaccumulative contaminants, and therefore, could be potentially active as environmental antiestrogens in wildlife and humans.

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