Endocrine Disruptors and Obesity

DES exposure during the neonatal period predisposes to obesity in mice at 4–6 months of age

2017 Study Abstract

Purpose of Review
The purpose of this review was to summarise current evidence that some environmental chemicals may be able to interfere in the endocrine regulation of energy metabolism and adipose tissue structure.

Recent Findings
Recent findings demonstrate that such endocrine-disrupting chemicals, termed “obesogens”, can promote adipogenesis and cause weight gain. This includes compounds to which the human population is exposed in daily life through their use in pesticides/herbicides, industrial and household products, plastics, detergents, flame retardants and as ingredients in personal care products. Animal models and epidemiological studies have shown that an especially sensitive time for exposure is in utero or the neonatal period.

An especially sensitive time frame for exposure to obesogens has been found to be either prior to birth in utero or in the neonatal period. Neonatal mice exposed to the synthetic oestrogen DES have also been reported to have increased body weight. This featured image shows a representative photomicrograph at 4–6 months of age of control and neonatal DES-treated female mice: the mice were treated on days 1–5 of age with 1 μgDES/kg body weight/day, and obesity was evident by 4–6 months of age. This serves to demonstrate the obesogenic consequences of exposure to a potent oestrogen at an inappropriate developmental stage.

In summarising the actions of obesogens, it is noteworthy that as their structures are mainly lipophilic, their ability to increase fat deposition has the added consequence of increasing the capacity for their own retention. This has the potential for a vicious spiral not only of increasing obesity but also increasing the retention of other lipophilic pollutant chemicals with an even broader range of adverse actions. This might offer an explanation as to why obesity is an underlying risk factor for so many diseases including cancer.



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