Molecular Basis for Endocrine Disruption by Pesticides Targeting Aromatase and Estrogen Receptor

Abstract: The intensive use of pesticides has led to their increasing presence in water, soil, and agricultural products. Mounting evidence indicates that some pesticides may be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), being therefore harmful for the human health and the environment. In this study, three pesticides, glyphosate, thiacloprid, and imidacloprid, were tested for their ability to interfere with estrogen biosynthesis and/or signaling, to evaluate their potential action as EDCs.

Among the tested compounds, only glyphosate inhibited aromatase activity (up to 30%) via a non-competitive inhibition or a mixed inhibition mechanism depending on the concentration applied. Then, the ability of the three pesticides to induce an estrogenic activity was tested in MELN cells. When compared to 17_-estradiol, thiacloprid and imidacloprid induced an estrogenic activity at the highest concentrations tested with a relative potency of 5.4 _ 1010 and 3.7 _ 109, respectively. Molecular dynamics and docking simulations predicted the potential binding sites and the binding mode of the three pesticides on the structure of the two key targets, providing a rational for their mechanism as EDCs. The results demonstrate that the three pesticides are potential EDCs as glyphosate acts as an aromatase inhibitor, whereas imidacloprid and thiacloprid can interfere with estrogen induced signaling.