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Toxicol Sci. 2003 Jul;74(1):43-50. Epub 2003 May 2.

UV filters with antagonistic action at androgen receptors in the MDA-kb2 cell transcriptional-activation assay.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich,CH-8057, Zurich, Switzerland.


The fact that certain ultraviolet (UV) filters used in cosmetics display estrogenic activity prompted us to study potential actions on androgen receptors (AR) in the human breast carcinoma cell line MDA-kb2, which expresses functional endogenous AR and glucocorticoid receptors (GR) and is stably transfected with a luciferase reporter plasmid. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), methyltrienolone (R1881), methyltestosterone, danazol, and androstenedione increased luciferase activity, with EC50 values between 0.11 nM (R1881), 0.14 nM (DHT), and 73.5 nM (androstenedione). DHT-induced luciferase gene expression was inhibited by nonsteroidal antiandrogens, hydroxyflutamide, flutamide, bicalutamide, and vinclozolin. In contrast, the steroidal AR agonist/antagonist cyproterone actetate showed agonistic activity in the absence and presence of DHT, which was not blocked by hydroxyflutamide and thus seems not to be mediated by AR. GR-mediated activation of luciferase by dexamethasone was 100 times less potent than DHT and was not antagonized by hydroxyflutamide. The cell line was used for screening of UV filters, benzophenone-3 (Bp-3), benzophenone-4, 3-benzylidene camphor, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, butyl-methoxy-dibenzoylmethane, homosalate (HMS), octyl-dimethyl-PABA, and octyl-methoxycinnamate. Two of these, Bp-3 and HMS, antagonized DHT-induced AR activation below cytotoxic concentrations, with IC50 of 5.57 10-6 M (HMS) and 4.98 10-6 M (Bp-3). None of the eight UV filters displayed agonistic activity when tested alone, but high concentrations of Bp-3 induced an increase of luciferase activity in the presence of dexamethasone, which was not blocked by hydroxyflutamide or the estrogen antagonist, ICI 182,780. These data indicate that the UV filters Bp-3 and HMS possess antiandrogenic activity in vitro in addition to estrogenic activity.

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