ALICE KRIMSKY ROBISON, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


o,p'-DDT is a major component of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloro ethane, technical grade). Although possessing little insecticidal ability, the o,p'- isomer has two major biological activities which affect mammalian reproductive systems: it is estrogenic, and it induces hepatic mixed function oxidase enzymes. The focus of this work is the characterization of the estrogenic properties of o,p'-DDT in rodents. Initial studies examined the ability of o,p'-DDT to bind to and interact with elements of the estrogen receptor system. In an in vitro assay, DDT was shown to compete with 17(beta)-estradiol (E(,2)) for binding to cytoplasmic estrogen receptors (R(,c)) from normal and neoplastic tissues in two rodent species. The following phenomena were studied by measuring receptor levels from uteri (whole uteri and/or uterine cell types) taken from immature ovariectomized rats given one acute injection of o,p'-DDT or E(,2): the translocation of the R(,c) to the nucleus, nuclear receptor (R(,n)) retention patterns, and the subsequent reappearance of R(,c) in the cytoplasm. The magnitude and temporal patterns of the biological responses of uteri from similar immature rats were compared following o,p'-DDT and E(,2) exposure. The responses examined included increased "Induced Protein" synthesis (in vitro); and uterine wet weight, DNA synthesis and mitosis (in vivo). From dose-response data, correlations were made between R(,n) levels and levels of subsequent biological responses. The aim was to lend support to the premise that biological responses to o,p'-DDT exposure occur as a result of its interaction with the classical estrogen receptor system. Correlation coefficients of 0.95 to 0.98 were obtained between R(,n) levels and levels of responses examined, strongly supporting this hypothesis. Finally, o,p'-DDT was shown to be as effective as E(,2) in supporting the growth of a transplantable estrogen-responsive mammary tumor in adult rats (although it was unable to support the growth of a transplantable estrogen-dependent renal tumor in hamsters). While the positive result cannot be directly extrapolated to human or animal exposure to environmental estrogens, it suggests that hyperplastic responses of estrogen sensitive tissues should be considered as a possible toxicity of o,p'-DDT, related compounds having estrogenic properties, and other environmental estrogens.

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Recommended Citation

ROBISON, ALICE KRIMSKY, "THE ESTROGENIC PROPERTIES OF O,P'-DDT" (1983). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8325117.