Growth Factor-Like Actions of Environmental Estrogens on Pediatric Brain Tumors

EPA Grant Number: F6D10933
Title: Growth Factor-Like Actions of Environmental Estrogens on Pediatric Brain Tumors
Investigators: Spurling, Lynda M.
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2009
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Molecular, Cellular, and Biochemical Pharmacology


My proposed research will examine the molecular and cellular effects of environmental estrogens (EEs) on developing neuronal precursors and abnormally developed childhood brain tumors. I will be researching the effects of chemicals with hormone-like actions that occur both naturally in the environment as phytoestrogens, and as xenoestrogens, synthetic detergents or byproducts of plastic or manufacture. Understanding the effects that these agents have on gene expression and their physiological impact on proliferation, cell growth, cell death or metastasis will provide much insight into the effects of exposure.

I hypothesize that medulloblastoma (MD) cell growth and invasion are stimulated by the xenoestrogen bisphenol A (BPA) and the active soy-derived phytoestrogen equol. Two specific aims will be addressed in my research. I will determine the dose response characteristics of BPA and equol exposure on MD cell growth and invasion in culture, as well as examining these effects in vivo.


Complete dose response curves (10-14 – 10-5 M) will be generated for each compound using a MD derived cell line under serum-free conditions. The proliferative effects of each compound will be determined by standard automated viability and proliferation assays. The dose responsiveness of cell migration will be determined using a modified Boyden transwell assay. For the in vivo studies, subcutaneous xenografts of the MD cell line will be established in young ovariectomized nude mice that are maintained on soy free diets. Tumor growth rate and volume will be monitored over time in the presence and absence of BPA and equol. At the end of the study period, detailed histological analysis, including a quantitative assessment of tumor cell invasion of non-malignant tissues will be performed.

Expected Results:

EEs have been shown to both mimic and antagonize the effects of endogenous estrogen in the developing brain. Previous results have shown that developing neuronal precursors respond to physiologically low concentrations of estrogen which can influence growth, viability, and programmed cell death of developing neurons. MD is a neuronal precursor-like brain tumor that is estrogen responsive. Exposure of this tumor to EEs will promote cell growth and invasion.

Supplemental Keywords:

environmental estrogens, bispenol A, equol, medulloblastoma,, Health, Scientific Discipline, Toxicology, Environmental Chemistry, Risk Assessments, Biochemistry, altered gene expression, children's health, pediactric cancer, adolescents, animal model, estrogen, brain tumor, human exposure, human health risk

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final