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Endocrine disruption

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a class of chemicals that mimic, block or interfere with the production, metabolism or action of hormones in the body. As EDCs are ubiquitous in our environment, food and consumer products, they pose a threat not just to public health but to global health. This Nature Reviews Endocrinology web collection on endocrine disruption contains Reviews and commentaries written by leading researchers in the field, as well as key advances in EDC research highlighted by journal editors. The collection covers the biological effects of EDCs and evidence linking EDC exposures to adverse health outcomes such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, male and female reproductive disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, asthma and cancer, together with emerging technologies that have the potential to characterize current and past EDC exposures and predict risk of developing EDC-related diseases in the future.

Reviews & Perspectives

The emerging field of omics has the potential to advance and strengthen research into endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In this Opinion article, Andrea Baccarelli and colleagues discuss the potential of using omics technologies — both established and developing — to characterize present and past EDC exposures and predict risk of developing EDC-related diseases.

Opinion | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Metabolism-disrupting chemicals (MDCs) are a subclass of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect energy homeostasis. Here, Angel Nadal and colleagues review the main mechanisms used by MDCs to alter energy balance, information that should help to identify new MDCs, as well as novel targets of their action.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

In this Review, Foulds et al. posit that endocrine-disrupting chemicals are an unappreciated driver of the development and progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Experimental animal studies supporting this association are discussed, together with the challenges of establishing a causal link in humans.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Evidence suggests that early-life exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals might contribute to the development of reproductive disorders. Here, Julie Boberg and colleagues summarize the current knowledge of how environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals potentially contribute to the development of ovarian dysgenesis syndrome.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Concern exists about the possible link between intrauterine exposure to analgesics and congenital malformations. Here, Bernard Jégou and colleagues discuss the effects of mild analgesics (paracetamol and NSAIDs) on endocrine homeostasis and the reproductive system in animals and humans of both sexes, from fetal life to adulthood.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

A subclass of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so-called 'obesogens', have been proposed to predispose certain individuals to weight gain, despite their efforts to limit caloric intake and increase levels of physical activity. In this Review, Jerrold Heindel and colleagues discuss the experimental and epidemiological findings on obesogens, their modes of action, and their role in the obesity epidemic.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

News & Comment

Household dust contaminated with common flame retardants used in everyday household items has been found to be associated with increased risk of developing smaller, as well as more aggressive forms of papillary thyroid cancer in humans. These findings emphasize the need to consider the exposome when evaluating the increased incidence of thyroid cancer.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

A mixture of chemicals commonly detected in human amniotic fluid has been found to perturb thyroid signalling, development of neurons and glia in the brain, and behavioural outcomes in offspring, when tested in a frog model of embryogenesis. The findings show the exquisite sensitivity of the developing organism to environmental contaminants.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Endocrine disruptors are critical environmental exposures that influence health and can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and abnormal physiology. Advances in 2015 included analyses of the effects of endocrine disruptors on human disease, further examples of endocrine disruptors promoting transgenerational behavioural effects, insights into effects of endocrine disruptors on epigenetic programming of primordial germ cells and the finding that endocrine disruptors can transgenerationally promote genetic mutations.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Developmental exposure to endocrine disruptors is suspected to be one of the main factors responsible for the increased incidence of breast cancer in industrialized countries. New data published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism show that exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane during fetal life is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Paracetamol is the most frequently used medication during pregnancy. Among concerns about its prenatal use, the association with failure of the testes to descend in neonates is the latest. A new study investigating the origin of this malformation reports that paracetamol can reduce testosterone levels in host mice transplanted with human fetal testis tissue.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Endocrinology

Research Highlights