Competitive androgen receptor antagonism as a factor determining the predictability of cumulative antiandrogenic effects of widely used pesticides

Frances Orton, Erika Rosivatz, Martin Scholze, Andreas Kortenkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many pesticides in current use have recently been revealed as in vitro androgen receptor (AR) antagonists, but information about their combined effects is lacking.

Objective: We investigated the combined effects and the competitive AR antagonism of pesticide mixtures.

Methods: We used the MDA-kb2 assay to test a combination of eight AR antagonists that did not also possess AR agonist properties ("pure" antagonists; 8 mix: fludioxonil, fenhexamid, ortho-phenylphenol, imazalil, tebuconazole, dimethomorph, methiocarb, pirimiphos-methyl), a combination of five AR antagonists that also showed agonist activity (5 mix: cyprodinil, pyrimethanil, vinclozolin, chlorpropham, linuron), and all pesticides combined (13 mix). We used concentration addition (CA) and independent action (IA) to formulate additivity expectations, and Schild plot analyses to investigate competitive AR antagonism.

Results: A good agreement between the effects of the mixture of eight "pure" AR antagonists and the responses predicted by CA was observed. Schild plot analysis revealed that the 8 mix acted by competitive AR antagonism. However, the observed responses of the 5 mix and the 13 mix fell within the "prediction window" boundaries defined by the predicted regression curves of CA and IA. Schild plot analysis with these mixtures yielded anomalous responses incompatible with competitive receptor antagonism.

Conclusions: A mixture of widely used pesticides can, in a predictable manner, produce combined AR antagonist effects that exceed the responses elicited by the most potent component alone. Inasmuch as large populations are regularly exposed to mixtures of antiandrogenic pesticides, our results underline the need for considering combination effects for these substances in regulatory practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1578-1584
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists/chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dihydrotestosterone/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pesticides/chemistry
  • Receptors, Androgen/metabolism
  • Risk Assessment/methods


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