The Role of Endocrine Disruptors on Metabolic Dysfunction

Diogo Pestana1, 2, Diana Teixeira1, 2, Carla Sá2, Luísa Correia-Sá3, Valentina F. Domingues3, Rosário Monteiro2, 4, Conceição Calhau1, 2, *
1 CINTESIS - Center for Health Technology and Services Research, P-4200-450 Porto, Portugal
2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Centro de Investigação Médica, P-4200-450 Porto, Portugal
3 Requimte-Instituto Superior de Engenharia, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, P-4200-072 Porto, Portugal
4 Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

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© Pestana et al; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto Centro de Investigação Médica, Rua Dr. Plácido da Costa, 4200-450 Porto, Portugal; Tel: (+351) 220426680; Email:


Abdominal obesity appears to be an important component of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), in which along with insulin resistance, hypertension and dyslipidaemia represents an increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The aetiology of obesity and its comorbidities is multifactorial, but despite the evidence of traditional contributing factors, the role of environmental toxicants with endocrine disrupting activity has been recently highlighted. Indeed, even small concentrations of these endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have the ability to cause severe health damages. In this revision, we focused our attention on the mechanisms of action and impact of EDCs exposure as a contributor to the present epidemics of obesity and MetS.

The "environmental obesogens" hypothesis associates environmental EDCs to the disruption of energy homeostasis, with recent studies demonstrating the ability of these compounds to modulate the adipocyte biology. On the other hand, the distinct distribution pattern observed between two metabolically distinct AT depots (visceral and subcutaneous) and subsequent repercussion in the aggravation of metabolic dysfunction in a context of obesity, provides accumulating evidence to hypothesise that EDCs might have an important “environmental dysmetabolism” effect.

However, in addition to adulthood exposure, the perinatal effects are very important, since it may allow a change in the metabolic programming, promoting the further development of obesity and MetS. Therefore, additional research directed at understanding the nature and action of EDCs will illuminate the connection between health and the environment and the possible effects triggered by these compounds in respect to public health.

Keywords: Endocrine disrupting chemicals, metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes.