Epigenetic Mechanisms in the Actions of Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals: Gonadal Effects and Role in Female Reproduction


Author’s address (for correspondence): M Uzumcu, Department of Animal Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 84 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525, USA. E-mail: uzumcu@aesop.rutgers.edu


There is a heightened interest and concern among scientists, clinicians and regulatory agencies as well as the general public, regarding the effects of environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In this review, we identify the main epigenetic mechanisms and describe key ovarian processes that are vulnerable to the epigenetic actions of EDCs. We also provide an overview of the human epidemiological evidence documenting the detrimental effects of several common environmental EDCs on female reproduction. We then focus on experimental evidence demonstrating the epigenetic effects of these EDCs in the ovary and female reproductive system, with an emphasis on methoxychlor, an organochlorine pesticide. We conclude the review by describing several critical issues in studying epigenetic effects of EDCs in the ovary, including transgenerational epigenetic effects.