Comparative evaluation of alkylphenolic compounds on estrogenic activity in vitro and in vivo

Seung Jun Kwack, Oran Kwon, Hyung Sik Kim, Soon Sun Kim, So Hee Kim, Kyung Hee Sohn, Rhee Da Lee, Chul Hoon Park, Eui Bae Jeung, Beum Soo An, Kui Lea Park

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94 Scopus citations


This study was undertaken to compare the sensitivity of screening test methods and to investigate the structure-activity relationships of the estrogenic activity of alkylphenolic compounds (APs) using in vitro and in vivo assays. Two in vitro systems, MCF-7 cell proliferation (E-screen assay) and competitive binding assay to estrogen receptor (ER), were selected to evaluate the estrogenic effects. Uterotrophic assay and Calbindin-D9K (CaBP-9K) mRNA expression were also examined in ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley female rats. A series of APs with various alkyl groups were examined, namely, 4-propylphenol, 4-butylphenol, 4-t-butylphenol, 4-pentylphenol, 4-nonylphenol, 4-octylphenol, 4-t-octylphenol, and 4-phenylphenol, and 17 β-estradiol (E2) was used as a positive control. In the E-screen assay, E2 was found to induce maximum proliferation of MCF-7 cells at 1 nM. Among the APs, 4-t-octylphenol and 4-nonylphenol were found to be considerably more potent than any other compound and estrogenic effects were detectable at 1 and 10 μM, respectively. 4-t-Octylphenol and 4-nonylphenol inhibited the binding of E2 to the ER of MCF-7 cells in a competitive ER binding assay. The uterotrophic effects to APs (10, 50, 200, and 400 mg/kg/d) were compared to E2 (1 μg/kg) in ovariectomized rats after treatment for 3 d. 4-Nonylphenol, 4-t-octylphenol, and 4-phenylphenol produced dose-dependent increases in the uterine weights of ovariectomized rats. In the CaBP-9K mRNA expression test, CaBP-9K mRNA levels were detected in the uteri of ovariectomized rats treated with 4-pentylphenol (400 mg/kg), 4-nonylphenol, 4-phenylphenol (200 and 400 mg/kg), and 4-t-octylphenol (50 mg/kg and above), respectively. In the dot blot assay, CaBP-9K mRNA levels were significantly increased in rats exposed to 4-t-octylphenol (200 and 400 mg/kg), 4-pentylphenol, 4-nonylphenol, and 4-phenylphenol (400 mg/kg), respectively. Among the APs, compounds with bulky alkyl groups or higher carbon numbers possessed higher estrogenic capacity. In addition, the pattern of CaBP-9K expression correlated with that of the 3-d uterotrophic assay. Therefore, our results suggest that the CaBP-9K gene might be used as a potential biomarker for the screening of endocrine disruptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-431
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2002


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