Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 390, Issue 8, pp 2081–2088 | Cite as

Molecular recognition of endocrine disruptors by synthetic and natural 17β-estradiol receptors: a comparative study

  • Bernadette Tse Sum Bui
  • Anne-Sophie Belmont
  • Hilda WittersEmail author
  • Karsten HauptEmail author
Original Paper


A β-estradiol receptor binding mimic was synthesised using molecular imprinting. Bulk polymers and spherical polymer nanoparticles based on methacrylic acid and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate as the functional monomer and crosslinker, respectively, were prepared in acetonitrile. The selectivity was evaluated by radioligand binding assays. The imprinted polymers were very specific to β-estradiol since the control polymers bound virtually none of the radioligand. The bulk polymer was then employed to screen endocrine disrupting chemicals. Structurally related steroids like α-estradiol, estrone and ethynylestradiol showed, respectively, 14.0, 5.0 and 0.7% of relative binding to the β-estradiol polymer, whereas most unrelated chemicals did not bind at all. These results are compared to those obtained with a bioassay using stably transfected yeast cells in culture bearing the human estrogen receptor. The receptor was activated by several estrogen-like chemicals and to a lesser extent by some structurally related chemicals.


A molecularly imprinted polymer that was a synthetic receptor for beta-estradiol was used for the screening of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are structurally related or unrelated to beta-estradiol. The results were compared with the recognition of the compounds by the biological estrogen receptor expressed in yeast cells. Related steroids like alpha-estradiol, estrone and ethynylestradiol showed significant binding to the beta-estradiol imprinted polymer, whereas most unrelated chemicals did not bind. The biological receptor was activated by several estrogen-like chemicals, and to a lesser extent by some structurally related chemicals


Molecular imprinting Synthetic receptors Endocrine disruptors Bioassay Screening β-estradiol 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the European Union (MENDOS project, grant n° QLK4-CT2002-02323). The technical assistance by Mrs. C. Vangenechten who performed the yeast assay is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Compiègne University of Technology, UMR CNRS 6022Compiégne cedexFrance
  2. 2.Flemish Institute for Technological Research—VITO nv, Expertise Center Environmental ToxicologyMolBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratoire des acides nucléiques, CEAGrenobleFrance

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