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Toxicol Pathol. 2004 Jul-Aug;32 Suppl 2:59-70.

Toxicogenomic approach to endocrine disrupters: identification of a transcript profile characteristic of chemicals with estrogenic activity.

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Miami Valley Laboratories, The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio 45253, USA.


Public concerns have been raised in recent years over the possible adverse effects that may result from exposure to chemicals in the environment that have the potential to interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system in wildlife and humans ("endocrine disrupters"). Regulations have been established that require the testing of pesticides used in food crops and drinking water contaminants, for estrogenicity and other hormonal activities. In the United States, the U.S. EPA proposed the Endocrine Disrupter Screening Program, which consists of a Tier 1 screening battery of tests that is designed to identify chemicals capable of interacting with various hormonal systems, and different Tier 2 testing assays that are designed to verify and broaden the Tier 1 results. We identify 2 main problems with this approach: (1) the fact that the developmental stages that are the most susceptible to endocrine disruption are not represented in the screening tier, mainly because developmental effects tend to be latent, and there is no way to economically screen in developing models; and (2) the expense to screen each chemical to be included in this program. Thus, the need arises for an accurate, rapid, and cost effective method for assessing the potential endocrine activity of multiple chemicals during development. We hypothesize that the largely latent developmental effects of some endocrine disruptors are preceded by immediate changes in gene expression in the embryo and fetus. Therefore, an approach to assess the potential estrogenic (and other steroid hormonal) activity of different compounds is to identify those patterns of gene expression elicited in a tissue/organ exposed to these particular classes of chemicals. In this paper, the potential utility of such an approach for screening and better understanding of mechanism of action for specific chemicals with endocrine disrupter activities is presented, using as an example chemicals with estrogenic activity.

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