Behavioral aspects involved in obesogenic actions of EDCs

Perinatal exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds and the control of feeding behavior – An overview

2018 Study Highlights

  • Perinatal exposure to EDC can disrupt energy homeostasis leading to obesity and diabetes.
  • Most perinatal studies only report crude food or energy intake, if at all.
  • Perinatal studies should analyze meal patterns and response to peripheral peptide hormones.
  • These studies should also examine hypothalamic-hindbrain neurocircuitry.


Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants that can interact with steroid and nuclear receptors or alter hormone production. Many studies have reported that perinatal exposure to EDC including bisphenol A, PCB, dioxins, and DDT disrupt energy balance, body weight, adiposity, or glucose homeostasis in rodent offspring. However, little information exists on the effects of perinatal EDC exposure on the control of feeding behaviors and meal pattern (size, frequency, duration), which may contribute to their obesogenic properties. Feeding behaviors are controlled centrally through communication between the hindbrain and hypothalamus with inputs from the emotion and reward centers of the brain and modulated by peripheral hormones like ghrelin and leptin. Discrete hypothalamic nuclei (arcuate nucleus, paraventricular nucleus, lateral and dorsomedial hypothalamus, and ventromedial nucleus) project numerous reciprocal neural connections between each other and to other brain regions including the hindbrain (nucleus tractus solitarius and parabrachial nucleus).

Most studies on the effects of perinatal EDC exposure examine simple crude food intake over the course of the experiment or for a short period in adult models. In addition, these studies do not examine EDC’s impacts on the feeding neurocircuitry of the hypothalamus-hindbrain, the response to peripheral hormones (leptin, ghrelin, cholecystokinin, etc.) after refeeding, or other feeding behavior paradigms. The purpose of this review is to discuss those few studies that report crude food or energy intake after perinatal EDC exposure and to explore the need for deeper investigations in the hypothalamic-hindbrain neurocircuitry and discrete feeding behaviors..

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