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Elin Swedenborg, Joëlle Rüegg, Sari Mäkelä and Ingemar Pongratz

Endocrine disruption refers to the ability of chemicals to interfere with hormonal systems, and has raised considerable concern in recent years. Endocrine disruptive chemicals (EDCs) pose a documented risk to wildlife and have the potential to negatively influence human health. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms of endocrine disruption and the possible involvement of EDCs in metabolic disorders. The first part describes the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and nuclear receptors (NRs) in mediating effects of EDCs, in particular, how cross-talk between AhR and NR pathways can lead to endocrine disruption. The second part deals with how these receptors are involved in metabolic functions and how their targeting by EDCs can lead to disturbances in glucose and fat metabolism. The article illustrates that, although there is accumulating data on molecular mechanisms of EDC action as well as on EDC involvement in metabolic disorders, there is still a great demand for data that can unite the mechanistic and the toxicological/epidemiological observations.