Estrogenic effects in vitro and in vivo of the fungicide fenarimol

Helle Raun Andersen, Eva C. Bonefeld-Jørgensen, Flemming Nielsen, Kirsten Jarfeldt, Magdalena N. Jayatissa, Anne Vinggaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The fungicide fenarimol has the potential to induce endocrine disrupting effects via several mechanisms since it possesses both estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity and inhibits aromatase activity in cell culture studies. Hence, the integrated response of fenarimol in vivo is not easy to predict. In this study, we demonstrate that fenarimol is also estrogenic in vivo. causing significantly increased uterine weight in ovariectomized female rats. In addition, mRNA levels of the estrogen responsive gene lactoferrin (LF) were decreased in uteri, serum FSH levels were increased, and T3 levels decreased in fenarimol-treated animals. To our knowledge, only two other pesticides (o.p-DDT and methoxychlor) have previously been reported to induce an estrogenic response in the rodent uterotrophic bioassay. A pronounced xenoestrogenicity in serum samples from rats treated with fenarimol and estradiol benzoate (E2B) separately or in combination was observed, demonstrating the usefulness of this approach for estimating the integrated internal exposure to xenoestrogens. The MCF-7 cell proliferation assay was used to investigate further the dose-response curves for the estrogenic, antiestrogenic, and aromatase inhibiting properties of fenarimol in vitro. The results indicates that fenarimol exhibits a dual effect being aromatase inhibitor at low concentrations and estrogenic at higher concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)142-152
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • fungicide
  • MCF-7 cell proliferation
  • gene expression
  • estrogen agonist
  • uterotrophic
  • fenarimol


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