Background: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are ubiquitous and may significantly contribute in environmental pollution, thus contaminating humans and wildlife. Environmental pollutants could interfere with bone homeostasis by means of different mechanisms, which include hormonal imbalance, direct osteoblasts toxicity and enanchment of osteoclasts activity, thus leading to osteopenia or osteoporosis. Among these, bisphenols, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorobiphenyls, poly- and perfluoroalkyls, phthalates, parabens, organotins and cadmium may play a role in bone distuption.
Methods: PubMed/MEDLINE, ISI-web of knowledge and Google scholar databases were searched for medical subject headings terms and free-text word related to the aforementioned classes of chemicals and bone metabolism and remodelling for better clarifying and understanding the main mechanisms of bone disruption.
Results: Several of EDCs act as xenoestrogens. Considering that estrogens play a significant role in regulating bone remodeling, most of these chemicals generate hormonal imbalance with possible detrimental consequences on bone tissue structure and its mechanical and non-mechanical properties.
Discussion: A lot of evidences about bone distruptors came from in vitro studies or animal models, and conduct to equivocal results. In addition, a few data derived form humans and most of these data focused on the impact of EDCs on bone mineral density without considering their influence on long-term fracture risk. Moreover, it should be taken into account that humans are exposed to a mixture of EDCs and the final effect on bone metabolism might be the result of either a synergism or antagonist effects among them. Age of first exposure, cumulative dose exposure over time, and the usually observed non-monotonic dose-response curve for EDCs should be considered as other important variable influencing the final effect on bone metabolism.
Conclusion: Taking into account these variables, observational studies are needed to better analyze this issue both for echological purpose and to preserve bone health.
Keywords: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, bone turnover, bone metabolism, bisphenol A, cadmium, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorobiphenyls, polyfluoroalkyl, perfluoroalkyl, phthalates, parabens, organotins