Dr. Andrea Gore, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is leading the Endocrine Society in calling for new protocols concerning the defining and identifying of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Calling the current protocols insufficient, the society issued a Statement of Principles regarding the definition of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and proposes recommendations to strengthen the ability of current screening programs to identify these chemicals. Experts also expressed concerns about exposure during developmental stages, citing these as the most detrimental.
"This new statement is motivated by the fact that we're concerned that the current regulatory testing process is not up to the same standard that endocrinologists would use to study hormones in their own laboratories," Andrea C. Gore, PhD, division of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin, said during a press conference. "Testing needs to happen at a broader range of doses, low doses need to be incorporated and we need to use endocrine principles to interpret the results. The recommendation is that we have to incorporate our understanding of the endocrine system and engage endocrinologists with experts in these areas to contribute to designing and interpreting the tests that are used for regulatory processes; unfortunately that isn't happening enough right now."
Gore, who is a member of The Endocrine Society and co-author of the Statement of Principles, presented data from her study of pregnant Sprague–Dawley rats that were exposed to the industrial contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls, a class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
She and colleagues found that offspring of exposed rats experienced developmental effects associated with prenatal exposure to EDC, which manifested as age-dependent alterations in gene expression. The effects were most profound among 15-day old (juvenile) males and 45-day old (young adult) females. They identified gene expression changes in two hypothalamic regions - the ARC and AVPV - that were age-, sex- and developmental stage-specific, suggesting EDCs could alter development of a network of genes in the hypothalamus.
"The bottom line is that, as the brain and body develop, effects of early life exposure are manifested in life stage, sex and tissue-specific manners," she said of her findings.
Gore was recently named to become the next editor-in-chief of Endocrinology. Her term as editor begins in January 2013.