Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

3-D Images Show Flame Retardants Can Mimic Estrogens in NIH Study

21.08.2013
By determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins at the atomic level, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered how some commonly used flame retardants, called brominated flame retardants (BFRs), can mimic estrogen hormones and possibly disrupt the body’s endocrine system. BFRs are chemicals added or applied to materials to slow or prevent the start or growth of fire.

“We’re beginning to have a better understanding of flame retardants and their effect on human health. This particular study helps us literally see what brominated flame retardants do when they get in the body — they interfere with the body’s natural hormones,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, and National Toxicology Program (NTP). “Using the 3-D imaging capabilities, we can see the flame retardants binding, or attaching, to proteins like estrogens do.”

Birnbaum is an author on the new study which appears online in Environmental Health Perspectives. She and her fellow researchers conducted the study in a facility jointly supported by several NIH institutes.

Birnbaum, a leading researcher on flame retardants, joined with biologists and a postdoctoral fellow to look more closely at one of the most widely used BFRs, tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA). Earlier this year, NTP released data from a two-year bioassay study, showing that TBBPA caused tumors in rats and mice.

“Having chemicals act like estrogen or other hormones disrupts how the endocrine system works,” said Birnbaum. “In this case, the ability of flame retardants to bind to and inhibit an enzyme that metabolizes estrogen, called estrogen sulfotransferase, could result in the body having too much estrogen.”

The endocrine system is one of the body’s main communication networks and is responsible for controlling and coordinating numerous functions, including growth and development, reproduction, response to stress, and energy levels.

There are hundreds of different flame retardants. They are often broken into categories based on chemical structure and properties. BFRs, such as TBBPA, are used in many types of consumer goods, including electronics, furniture, building materials, and automobiles. Flame retardants are being studied, because of their pervasiveness and concerns about possible adverse effects on the endocrine, immune, reproductive, and nervous systems.

For this study, the researchers used X-ray crystallography to build a 3-D model of the protein binding to flame retardants. Crystallography allows researchers to look at proteins at the atomic level. They examined how TBBPA and a metabolite, or derivative, of another flame retardant called tetrabromodiphenyl ether, or BDE-47, compared with binding of estradiol, a naturally occurring estrogen, to the estrogen sulfotransferase.

Although many flame retardants, including BDE-47, are no longer produced in the United States, some BFRs are slow to break down and can persist in the environment. People can be exposed to flame retardants through a variety of ways, including diet; consumer products in the home, car, and workplace; and house dust.

“Using crystallography allows us to visualize exactly how these compounds can interact with the body’s enzymes,” said Lars Pedersen, Ph.D., Collaborative X-ray Crystallography Group leader at NIEHS. “Our results revealed TBBPA binding to the estrogen sulfotransferase at the same position and in a similar manner as estradiol binds.”

“Although there is much more to be learned about how these chemicals and their metabolites impact different systems in the body, every piece of the puzzle helps increase our understanding of the effects they may have.” Researchers, like Pedersen and Birnbaum, hope the findings will be used by companies to develop safer alternatives to current flame retardants.

Reference(s):

Gosavi RA, Knudsen GA, Birnbaum, LS, Pedersen LC. Mimicking of estradiol binding by flame retardants and their metabolites: a crystallographic analysis. Environ Health Perspect; doi:10.1289/ehp.1306902 [online August 19, 2013]

National Toxicology Program. 2013. Tetrabromobisphenol A. Available: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/TS-M200033 [accessed August 12, 2013].

Grant numbers:
ZIAES102645
NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit http://www.niehs.nih.gov. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/newslist/index.cfm) to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

Robin Mackar | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.nih.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss has increased
14.06.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A sprinkle of platinum nanoparticles onto graphene makes brain probes more sensitive

15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Perovskite-silicon solar cell research collaboration hits 25.2% efficiency

15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>