Impact Factor
This article is part of the Research Topic Long term consequences of early life experience


Front. Behav. Neurosci., 29 June 2009 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/neuro.08.010.2009

Long-term effects of environmental endocrine disruptors on reproductive physiology and behavior

Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
It is well established that, over the course of development, hormones shape the vertebrate brain such that sex specific physiology and behaviors emerge. Much of this occurs in discrete developmental windows that span gestation through the prenatal period, although it is now becoming clear that at least some of this process continues through puberty. Perturbation of this developmental progression can permanently alter the capacity for reproductive success. Wildlife studies have revealed that exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), either naturally occurring or man made, can profoundly alter reproductive physiology and ultimately impact entire populations. Laboratory studies in rodents and other species have elucidated some of the mechanisms by which this occurs and strongly indicate that humans are also vulnerable to disruption. Use of hormonally active compounds in human medicine has also unfortunately revealed that the developing fetus can be exposed to and affected by endocrine disruptors, and that it might take decades for adverse effects to manifest. Research within the field of environmental endocrine disruption has also contributed to the general understanding of how early life experiences can alter reproductive physiology and behavior through non-genomic, epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation. These types of effects have the potential to impact future generations if the germ line is affected. This review provides an overview of how exposure to EDCs, particularly those that interfere with estrogen action, impacts reproductive physiology and behaviors in vertebrates.
bisphenol, genistein, soy, estrogen receptors, development, sexual differentiation
Patisaul HB and Adewale HB (2009). Long-term effects of environmental endocrine disruptors on reproductive physiology and behavior. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 3:10. doi:10.3389/neuro.08.010.2009
01 May 2009;
 Paper pending published:
18 May 2009;
10 June 2009;
 Published online:
29 June 2009.

Edited by:

Larry J. Young, Emory University School of Medicine, USA
Yerkes National Primate Research Center, USA

Reviewed by:

John Vandenbergh, North Carolina State University, USA
Jason Richardson, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, USA
David Crews, University of Texas at Austin, USA
© 2009 Patisaul and Adewale. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
Heather B. Patisaul, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7617, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA. e-mail: heather_patisaul@ncsu.edu