Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent environmental pollutants which exert a variety of toxic effects in animals, including disturbances of sexual development and reproductive function. The estrogenic effects of PCBs may be mediated in part by hydroxylated PCB metabolites (PCB-OHs), but the mechanisms by which they are brought about are not understood. PCBs as well as PCB-OHs show low affinities for both α and β estrogen receptor isoforms. In the present study we demonstrate that various environmentally relevant PCB-OHs are extremely potent inhibitors of human estrogen sulfotransferase, strongly suggesting that they indirectly induce estrogenic activity by increasing estradiol bioavailability in target tissues.
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