The chemical revolution that began during World War II transformed our world. While our lives are undoubtedly improved in many ways, we now know that a subset of chemicals, called environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), have detrimental effects on the health of humans and wildlife. EDCs include some pesticides, industrial chemicals, and components of plastics and food contact containers, and we come into contact with EDCs every day. Higher body burdens of EDCs in humans are associated with greater risk for endocrine and neurological disorders. Andrea Gore’s laboratory is using a rat model of low-dose EDC exposure, and ascertaining the consequences on neuroendocrine and reproductive functions and behaviors. They have discovered that prenatal EDCs “reprogram” genes and proteins in the developing neuroendocrine system, and that these molecular and cellular changes are associated with an impaired neurobehavioral phenotype. Importantly, the effects of EDCs are manifested very differently in males and females, a result that is consistent with sex differences in hormone actions in the nervous system. Current EDC research is beginning to identify vulnerable neuroendocrine targets, with the potential for future therapeutic interventions.
Dr. Andrea Gore is Professor and Vacek Chair in Pharmacology at UT-Austin. Her NIH- funded research projects are investigating how environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) perturb the developing brain, and effects of estrogen on the aging brain as a model for menopause in women. Dr. Gore has published 4 books and 140 scientific papers. She is Chair of UT-Austin’s Faculty Council, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Endocrine Society’s flagship basic science journal, Endocrinology. Dr. Gore was lead author of the Society’s two Scientific Statements on EDCs, and organized and chaired the Gordon Research Conference on EDCs in 2012. In 2016, she was a recipient of the Endocrine Society’s Outstanding Public Service Award.