Endocrine disruption via estrogen receptors that participate in nongenomic signaling pathways

Cheryl S. Watson, Yow Jiun Jeng, Jutatip Guptarak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


When inappropriate (non-physiologic) estrogens affect organisms at critical times of estrogen sensitivity, disruption of normal endocrine functions can result. Non-physiologic estrogen mimetics (environmental, dietary, and pharmaceutical) can signal rapidly and potently via the membrane versions of estrogen receptors, as can physiologic estrogens. Both physiologic and non-physiologic estrogens activate multiple signaling pathways, leading to altered cellular functions (e.g. peptide release, cell proliferation or death, transport). Xenoestrogens' mimicry of physiologic estrogens is imperfect. When superimposed, xenoestrogens can alter endogenous estrogens' signaling and thereby disrupt normal signaling pathways, leading to malfunctions in many tissue types. Though these xenoestrogen actions occur rapidly via nongenomic signaling pathways, they can be sustained with continuing ligand stimulation, combinations of ligands, and signaling that perpetuates downstream, eventually also impinging on genomic regulation by controlling the activation state of transcription factors. Because via these pathways estrogens and xenoestrogens cause nonmonotonic stimulation patterns, they must be carefully tested for activity and toxicity over wide dose ranges. Nongenomic actions of xenoestrogens in combination with each other, and with physiologic estrogens, are still largely unexplored from these mechanistic perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Estrogens
  • Nongenomic
  • Nonmonotonic
  • Receptors
  • Women's health
  • Xenoestrogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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