Report from the BfR expert hearing on practicability of hormonal measurements: recommendations for experimental design of toxicological studies with integrated hormonal end points
This publication summarizes discussions that were held during an international expert hearing organized by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin, Germany, in October 2017. The expert hearing was dedicated to providing practical guidance for the measurement of circulating hormones in regulatory toxicology studies. Adequate measurements of circulating hormones have become more important given the regulatory requirement to assess the potential for endocrine disrupting properties for all substances covered by the plant protection products and biocidal products regulations in the European Union (EU). The main focus was the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid axis (HPT) and the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonadal axis (HPG). Insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamins A and D were also discussed. During the hearing, the experts agreed on specific recommendations for design, conduct and evaluation of acceptability of studies measuring thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone and reproductive hormones as well as provided some recommendations for insulin and IGF-1. Experts concluded that hormonal measurements as part of the test guidelines (TGs) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were necessary on the condition that quality criteria to guarantee reliability and reproducibility of measurements are adhered to. Inclusion of the female reproductive hormones in OECD TGs was not recommended unless the design of the study was modified to appropriately measure hormone concentrations. The current report aims at promoting standardization of the experimental designs of hormonal assays to allow their integration in OECD TGs and highlights research needs for better identification of endocrine disruptors using hormone measurements.