In an article published on November 12, 2019 in the journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology, a group of academic and governmental scientists have published an expert consensus statement identifying ten key characteristics (KCs) of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The effort was inspired by earlier work to improve the identification of hazards of carcinogens, and the article describes the logic behind the KCs as well as assays that could be used to assess them. “The KCs of EDCs were developed by recognizing that there are common features of hormone regulation and action that are independent of the diversity of the effects of hormones during the life cycle.” They are the outcome of a two-day workshop attended by an international group of experts.

The ten KCs for EDCs defined by the authors are:

  • interacts with or activates hormone receptors;
  • antagonizes hormone receptors;
  • alters hormone receptor expression;
  • alters signal transduction in hormone-responsive cells;
  • induces epigenetic modifications in hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells;
  • alters hormone synthesis;
  • alters hormone transport across cell membranes;
  • alters hormone distribution or circulating levels of hormones;
  • alters hormone metabolism or clearance;
  • alters the fate of hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells.

In describing the use of the KCs, the authors write that “depending on the end-users’ chosen parameters, such as the definition of the EDC used, the types and availability of data that can inform the evidence stream, and/or budget, end-users might wish to compress several KCs into a larger category or omit certain KCs in their EDC definition. It is critical in all circumstances to recognize that identifying an EDC is not merely counting the sum of KCs with supporting evidence.” The authors believe that these KCs provide “a universal framework for organizing mechanistic evidence for hazard identification that can be the foundation for the implementation of EDC risk assessments worldwide.”


La Merrill, M., et al. (2019). “Consensus on the key characteristics of endocrine-disrupting chemicals as a basis for hazard identification.” Nature Reviews: Endocrinology doi:10.1038/s41574-019-0273-8.

Read More

Andrew Turley (November 26, 2019). “Scientists produce ‘key characteristics’ of EDCs.” Chemical Watch