Environmental toxicology and chemistry

Synergistic interaction of endocrine-disrupting chemicals: model development using an ecdysone receptor antagonist and a hormone synthesis inhibitor.

PMID 15095909


Endocrine toxicants can interfere with hormone signaling through various mechanisms. Some of these mechanisms are interrelated in a manner that might result in synergistic interactions. Here we tested the hypothesis that combined exposure to chemicals that inhibit hormone synthesis and that function as hormone receptor antagonists would result in greater-than-additive toxicity. This hypothesis was tested by assessing the effects of the ecdysteroid-synthesis inhibitor fenarimol and the ecdysteroid receptor antagonist testosterone on ecdysteroid-regulated development in the crustacean Daphnia magna. Both compounds were individually characterized for effects on the development of isolated embryos. Fenarimol caused late developmental abnormalities, consistent with its effect on offspring-derived ecdysone in the maturing embryo. Testosterone interfered with both early and late development of embryos, consistent with its ability to inhibit ecdysone provided by maternal transfer (responsible for early developmental events) or de novo ecdysone synthesis (responsible for late developmental events). We predicted that, by decreasing endogenous levels of hormone, fenarimol would enhance the likelihood of testosterone binding to and inhibiting the ecdysone receptor. Indeed, fenarimol enhanced the toxicity of testosterone, while testosterone had no effect on the toxicity of fenarimol. Algorithms were developed to predict the toxicity of combinations of these two compounds based on independent joint action (IJA) alone as well as IJA with fenarimol-on-testosterone synergy (IJA+SYN). The IJA+SYN model was highly predictive of the experimentally determined combined effects of the two compounds. These results demonstrate that some endocrine toxicants can synergize, and this synergy can be accurately predicted.

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Fenarimol, PESTANAL®, analytical standard