Assessment of xenoestrogenic exposure by a biomarker approach: Application of the E-Screen bioassay to determine estrogenic response of serum extracts

T.H. Rasmussen, F. Nielsen, H.R. Andersen, J.B. Nielsen, P. Weihe, P. Grandjean

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    Background: Epidemiological documentation of endocrine disruption is complicated by imprecise exposure assessment, especially when exposures are mixed. Even if the estrogenic activity of all compounds were known, the combined effect of possible additive and/or inhibiting interaction of xenoestrogens in a biological sample may be difficult to predict from chemical analysis of single compounds alone. Thus, analysis of mixtures allows evaluation of combined effects of chemicals each present at low concentrations. Methods: We have developed an optimized in vitro E-Screen test to assess the combined functional estrogenic response of human serum. The xenoestrogens in serum were separated from endogenous steroids and pharmaceuticals by solid-phase extraction followed by fractionation by high-performance liquid chromatography. After dissolution of the isolated fraction in ethanol-DMSO, the reconstituted extract was added with estrogen-depleted fetal calf serum to MCF-7 cells, the growth of which is stimulated by estrogen. After a 6-day incubation on a microwell plate, cell proliferation was assessed and compared with the effect of a 17-beta-estradiol standard. Results and conclusions: To determine the applicability of this approach, we assessed the estrogenicity of serum samples from 30 pregnant and 60 non-pregnant Danish women thought to be exposed only to low levels of endocrine disruptors. We also studied 211 serum samples from pregnant Faroese women, whose marine diet included whale blubber that contain a high concentration of persistent halogenated pollutants. The estrogenicity of the serum from Danish controls exceeded the background in 22. 7% of the cases, while the same was true for 68.1% of the Faroese samples. The increased estrogenicity response did not correlate with the lipid-based concentrations of individual suspected endocrine disruptors in the Faroese samples. When added along with the estradiol standard, an indication of an enhanced estrogenic response was found in most cases. Thus, the in vitro estrogenicity response offers a promising and feasible approach for an aggregated exposure assessment for xenoestrogens in serum.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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