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Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2012 Jul;28(7 Suppl):S37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.kjms.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

Immunomodulatory effects of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals.

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Department of Pediatrics, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan.


During recent decades more than 100,000 new chemicals have been introduced as common consumer products into our environment. Among these chemicals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are of particular concern owing to their toxicity in animal studies and their impacts on human health. EDCs are ubiquitous in the environment, including the air, water, and soil. The endocrine-disrupting effect of EDCs has been found to imitate the action of steroid hormones and promote several endocrine and reproductive disorders in both animal and human studies. In the present review, we focus on the effects of EDCs on the immune system. EDCs interfere with the synthesis of cytokines, immunoglobulins, and inflammatory mediators, and they also affect the activation and survival of immune cells. The dysfunction of the immune system caused by EDCs may lead to the attenuation of immunity (immunodeficiency) against infection or hyperreactivity of immune responses (allergy and autoimmune disease). In this review, we summarize epidemiologic, animal, and cell studies to demonstrate the potential effects of EDCs on immunity, allergy, and autoimmune diseases. We also address the impact of EDCs on epigenetic regulation.

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