Overview of a workshop on screening methods for detecting potential (anti-) estrogenic/androgenic chemicals in wildlife


  • Gerald Ankley,

    Corresponding author
    • The current address of G. Ankley is U.S. Environmental Proctection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, 6201 Congdon Boulevard, Duluth, MN 55804–1136, USA.
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  • Ellen Mihaich,

  • Ralph Stahl,

  • Donald Tillitt,

  • Theo Colborn,

  • Suzzanne McMaster,

  • Ron Miller,

  • John Bantle,

  • Pamela Campbell,

  • Nancy Denslow,

  • Richard Dickerson,

  • Leroy Folmar,

  • Michael Fry,

  • John Giesy,

  • L. Earl Gray,

  • Patrick Guiney,

  • Thomas Hutchinson,

  • Sean Kennedy,

  • Vincent Kramer,

  • Gerald LeBlanc,

  • Monte Mayes,

  • Alison Nimrod,

  • Reynaldo Patino,

  • Richard Peterson,

  • Richard Purdy,

  • Robert Ringer,

  • Peter Thomas,

  • Les Touart,

  • Glen Van Der Kraak,

  • Tim Zacharewski

  • This paper has been subjected to a U.S. EPA technical review; however, the views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect U.S. EPA policy, or that of any of the organizations mentioned herein.


The U.S. Congress has passed legislation requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to develop, validate, and implement screening tests for identifying potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals within 3 years. To aid in the identification of methods suitable for this purpose, the U.S. EPA, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and the World Wildlife Fund sponsored several workshops, including the present one, which dealt with wildlife species. This workshop was convened with 30 international scientists representing multiple disciplines in March 1997 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Participants at the meeting identified methods in terms of their ability to indicate (anti-) estrogenic/androgenic effects, particularly in the context of developmental and reproductive processes. Data derived from structure-activity relationship models and in vitro test systems, although useful in certain contexts, cannot at present replace in vivo tests as the sole basis for screening. A consensus was reached that existing mammalian test methods (e.g., with rats or mice) generally are suitable as screens for assessing potential (anti-) estrogenic/ androgenic effects in mammalian wildlife. However, due to factors such as among-class variation in receptor structure and endocrine function, it is uncertain if these mammalian assays would be of broad utility as screens for other classes of vertebrate wildlife. Existing full and partial life-cycle tests with some avian and fish species could successfully identify chemicals causing endocrine disruption; however, these long-term tests are not suitable for routine screening. However, a number of short-term tests with species from these two classes exist that could serve as effective screening tools for chemicals inducing (anti-) estrogenic/androgenic effects. Existing methods suitable for identifying chemicals with these mechanisms of action in reptiles and amphibians are limited, but in the future, tests with species from these classes may prove highly effective as screens. In the case of invertebrate species, too little is known at present about the biological role of estrogens and androgens in reproduction and development to recommend specific assays.