Using alternative test methods to predict endocrine disruption and reproductive adverse outcomes: do we have enough knowledge?

Terje Svingen*, Camilla Lindgren Schwartz, Anna Kjerstine Rosenmai, Louise Ramhøj, Hanna Katarina Lilith Johansson, Ulla Hass, Monica Kam Draskau, Nichlas Davidsen, Sofie Christiansen, Anne-Sofie Ravn Ballegaard, Marta Axelstad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a matter of great concern. They are ubiquitous in the environment, are considered harmful to humans and wildlife, yet remain challenging to identify based on current international test guidelines and regulatory frameworks. For a compound to be identified as an EDC within the EU regulatory system, a plausible link between an endocrine mode-of-action and an adverse effect outcome in an intact organism must be established. This requires in-depth knowledge about molecular pathways regulating normal development and function in animals and humans in order to elucidate causes for disease. Although our knowledge about the role of the endocrine system in animal development and function is substantial, it remains challenging to predict endocrine-related disease outcomes in intact animals based on non-animal test data. A main reason for this is that our knowledge about mechanism-of-action are still lacking for essential causal components, coupled with the sizeable challenge of mimicking the complex multi-organ endocrine system by methodological reductionism. Herein, we highlight this challenge by drawing examples from male reproductive toxicity, which is an area that has been at the forefront of EDC research since its inception. We discuss the importance of increased focus on characterizing mechanism-of-action for EDC-induced adverse health effects. This is so we can design more robust and reliable testing strategies using non-animal test methods for predictive toxicology; both to improve chemical risk assessment in general, but also to allow for considerable reduction and replacement of animal experiments in chemicals testing of the 21st Century.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119242
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Endocrine disruption
  • Risk assessment
  • Reproductive toxicity
  • AOP
  • Male reproduction
  • Mode of action
  • Alternative test methods


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