Endocrine Disruptors and Hypothalamic Sexual Differentiation
MetadataShow full item record
The so-called endocrine disruptors have been described as compounds which interfere with the estrogen action in their receptors and may exert a crucial role in the development of the reproductive tract and in the brain sexual differentiation. Thus, conducts and/or exposure to these drugs in the perinatal period that apparently do not endanger the neonate may cause side effects. During embrionary development, the gonads, through discharge of a small quantity of reproductive hormones, will guarantee the phenotype of male or female at birth, as well as actuate in specific areas sexual differentiation of the central nervous system. Several experimental models have shown an interference of drugs acting as endocrine disruptors in hypothalamic sexual differentiation. Thus, reproductive function is impaired by exposure to estrogen in the perinatal life of rats and the mechanisms involved in this effect are distinct for males and females. Perinatal exposure to drugs which may be considered endocrine disrupters may induce an incomplete masculinization and defeminization of the central nervous system. Alterations in these processes, if present, generally are perceived only at puberty or adult reproductive life. These later alterations may include anomalies in the process of fertility or in sexual behavior.