Sex-specific Actions of Endocrine Disruptors
Consistent evidence indicates that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) often induce different adverse effects in males and females, in laboratory animals as well as in humans. This phenomenon is, at least partly, a consequence of sex-specific levels of steroid hormones and/or steroid hormone receptors in tissues and organisms, which also vary throughout development before full sexual maturity. This implies the need for sex-specific evaluation when assessing whether and through what mechanism(s) a substance has an endocrine disrupting effect. Investigations of EDCs and their mixtures on animal models may be of great significance, yet interpretation needs specific care as, for example, rodents show differences from humans with regard to the homeostasis of steroid hormones as well as hormone receptors. It is of the utmost interest to explore sex-related differences in EDCs’ effects on non-reproductive tissues: in particular, this chapter discusses the research findings concerning the immune system, adipose tissue and especially neurobehavioral development. The assessment of EDC effects in mechanistic, toxicological or epidemiological studies should always include an analysis of sex-related differences.