Critical reviews in toxicology

Methoxychlor as a model for environmental estrogens.

PMID 9263644


Estrogens can have a variety of physiological effects, especially on the reproductive system. Chemicals with estrogenic activity that are present in the environment may thus be considered potentially hazardous to development and/or reproduction. Methoxychlor is one such chemical, a chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide with proestrogenic activity. Metabolism of the chemical either in vivo or using liver microsomes produces 2,2-bis(p-hydroxyphenyl)- 1,1,1-trichloroethane (HPTE), the active estrogenic form, and the delineation of this mechanism is reviewed herein. When administered in vivo, methoxychlor has adverse effects on fertility, early pregnancy, and in utero development in females as well as adverse effects on adult males such as altered social behavior following prenatal exposure to methoxychlor. Effects of methoxychlor on the female have been studied extensively, whereas reports on the chemical's effects on males are less common. From the studies reviewed here, the reproductive toxicity of methoxychlor is evident, but the significance of this toxicity with respect to human health remains to be determined.