The ED50s for the dose-response induction of hepatic microsomal aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH) and ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in the female Sprague-Dawley rat were 3.3 and 2.7 nmol/kg, respectively. In contrast, the corresponding ED50 values for induction by the nontoxic 6-methyl-1,3,8-trichlorodibenzofuran (MCDF) were 524 and 578 μmol/kg for AHH and EROD, respectively, and TCDD was > 1.5 × 105 more potent than MCDF as an agonist for this response. Cotreatment of the female rats with MCDF (20, 50, or 100 μmol/kg) and TCDD (6.4 nmol/kg) showed that MCDF partially antagonized the induction of AHH and EROD by TCDD and this corresponded with results previously reported in the male rat. Like TCDD, MCDF also caused a dose-response decrease in uterine and hepatic cytosolic and nuclear estrogen (ERc and ERn) and progesterone (PRc and PRn) receptor levels. The relative TCDD MCDF potencies for the reduction of uterine ERc, ERn, PRc, and PRn levels were 293, 569, 560, and 459, respectively, and comparable potency ratios (693, 409, 405, and 424, respectively) were observed in the liver. Since MCDF was active as an antiestrogen at dose levels which caused only minimal induction of hepatic monooxygenases, it is unlikely that induction of these enzymes and the subsequent increased metabolism of estradiol play a role in the antiestrogenic effects of MCDF (or TCDD). The reasons for the differences in the relative potency of MCDF for the "traditional" Ah receptor-mediated response (i.e., AHH induction) and the modulation of steroid hormone receptor binding levels are unknown. MCDF, a compound which exhibits relatively high TCDD receptor binding activity and low toxicity, represents a new class of nontoxic halogenated aromatic antiestrogens that can be utilized to further probe the mechanism of this response in model systems.
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