Humans are continuously exposed to hundreds of man-made chemicals that pollute the environment in addition to multiple therapeutic drug treatments administered throughout life. Some of these chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors (EDs), mimic endogenous signals, thereby altering gene expression, influencing development, and promoting disease. Although EDs are eventually removed from the market or replaced with safer alternatives, new evidence suggests that early-life exposure leaves a fingerprint on the epigenome, which may increase the risk of disease later in life. Epigenetic changes occurring in early life in response to environmental toxicants have been shown to affect behavior, increase cancer risk, and modify the physiology of the cardiovascular system. Thus, exposure to an ED or combination of EDs may represent a first hit to the epigenome. Only limited information is available regarding the effect of ED exposure on adrenal function. The adrenal gland controls the stress response, blood pressure, and electrolyte homeostasis. This endocrine organ therefore has an important role in physiology and is a sensitive target of EDs. We review herein the effect of ED exposure on the adrenal gland with particular focus on in utero exposure to the plasticizer di(2-ethylehyl) phthalate. We discuss the challenges associated with identifying the mechanism mediating the epigenetic origins of disease and availability of biomarkers that may identify individual or population risks.
Authors: Daniel B. Martinez-Arguelles, Vassilios Papadopoulos
Keywords: environmental endocrine disruption, plasticizer di(2-ethylehyl) phthalate
DOI Number: 10.3389/fendo.2015.00029 Publication Year: 2015
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