Phyto- and xeno-estrogens: the contribution of diet and environment to endocrine disruption

Rosemary Waring, S Ayers, AJ Gescher, H-R Glatt, W Meinl, P Jarratt, Christopher Kirk, Trevor Pettitt, Daniel Rea, Robert Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


Some endocrine disrupting compounds such as phthalates and phenols act non-genomically by inhibiting the sulfotransferase (SULT 1E1 and SULT 1A1) isoforms which inactivate estrogens by sulfonation. A range of environmental phenolic contaminants and dietary flavonoids was tested for inhibition of the human SULT 1A1, 1E1 and 2A1 isoforms. In particular, the plasticisers 4-n-octyl- and 4-n-nonyl-phenol inhibit SULT 1E1 with IC50 values of 0.16 mu M vs. 10 nM estradiol while the 2-substituted chlorophenols show similar values. Flavonoids are also SULT inhibitors; tricin is a competitive inhibitor of SULT 1E1 with a K-i of 1.5 +/- 0.8 nM. In a small pilot study to determine whether ingestion of soy flavonoids would affect SULT1A1 activity in vivo as well as in vitro, sulfonation of daidzein was reduced in a group of women 'at risk' of breast cancer, as compared with controls, although the SULT 1A1*1/SULT 1A1*2 allele ratio was not different. Endocrine disrupting effects in man may be multifactorial when components from both the diet and the environment act at the same point in steroid metabolism. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008


  • phytoestrogens
  • phenols
  • xenoestrogens
  • endocrine disruption
  • sulfotransferase
  • flavonoids


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