Co-occurrence of estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities in wastewater: Quantitative evaluation of balance by in vitro ERα reporter gene assay and chemical analysis

Masaru Ihara, Mariko O. Ihara, Vimal Kumar, Masanori Narumiya, Seiya Hanamoto, Norihide Nakada, Naoyuki Yamashita, Shinichi Miyagawa, Taisen Iguchi, Hiroaki Tanaka

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are exogenous substances that alter the function of the endocrine system, with adverse health effects on organisms or their progeny. In vitro estrogen receptor (ER) reporter gene assays have long been used to measure estrogenic activity in wastewater. Nevertheless, there is still uncertainty about their usefulness in environmental monitoring on account of a discrepancy between the estrogenic response of the in vitro assay and concentrations of estrogenic compounds determined by chemical analysis. Here, we measured estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities in wastewater by ERα reporter gene assay. All samples were simultaneously analyzed for estrone, 17β-estradiol, estriol, and 17α-ethynylestradiol, and the concentrations were used to predict estrogenic activity. All samples in which measured estrogenic activity was significantly lower than predicted showed strong antiestrogenic activity. In addition, we confirmed that the fraction that did not have antiestrogenic activity showed stronger estrogenic activity than the unfractionated wastewater extract. These results indicate that antiestrogenic compounds in wastewater suppress the activity of natural estrogens, and the reporter gene assay represents the net activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6366-6373
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2014

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