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Analysis of hormonal activity in soil, sediment or water samples by transactivation assays

​​​This service allows for the detection of endocrine disruptors in environmental samples (soils, sediments, sewage sludge, waters) and feeds. It is possible to determine the presence of compounds with hormonal activity at the estrogen, androgen, and thyroid hormone receptor level using in vitro bioassays. 

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  • The decline in reproductive capacity in populations of numerous animal species, including invertebrates, amphibians, birds, fish and mammals has increased noticeably in recent decades. It has been associated with exposure to environmental pollutants with the ability to alter the hormonal system, known as endocrine disruptors (EDs). The EDs cause effects at very low exposure doses. Also, if different EDs are found in the same sample they can present additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects. Therefore, in order to identify the capacity of environmental samples contaminated with EDs to produce effects in organisms exposed to them, it is important to know the overall effect of the sample rather than the ED content.

    In our laboratory we have cell lines that have been stably transfected with the luciferase gene coupled to hormone response elements. In this way, when one of the hormone receptors (estrogen, androgen, or thyroid) is activated or is blocked by the EDs, it increases or decreases the expression of luciferase and this is easily measured by luminescence bioassays.

    Our ED detection service responds to the need to know:

    • The global hormonal activity of samples from farms, treatment plants, agricultural plantations etc.
    • The effectiveness of improvement systems aimed at reducing pollution.


    • The technique is based on the detection of substances with the capacity to be endocrine disruptors by binding to hormone receptors using cell lines transfected with estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone receptors.
    • Cell lines validated by the OECD for the screening of chemical substances with hormonal capacity. We have different cell lines validated by the OECD: AR Eco-Screen, PC-DR-Luc, Hela-9903, among others developed and validated in our laboratory.
    • Low detection limits. The results obtained are presented in terms of hormone equivalents (Eq-H). The limits of detection are of the order ng Eq-H/g sample or ng Eq-H/ml sample. 
    • Precision. Unlike analytical techniques that determine the substance present, this technique makes it possible to measure the global hormonal and / or anti-hormonal activity of the sample, that is, the interaction of the mixture of substances present in the sample.
    • Profitability and speed. It is a fast and inexpensive technique. In an estimated time of 10 days from receipt of the sample we can issue a report with results. 

Frequently asked questions

What is an endocrine disruptor (ED)?

They are substances or mixtures of substances that alter the function of the endocrine system causing adverse effects to the health of organisms, their offspring or their populations.

Is it possible to simultaneously detect the three types of endocrine disruptors in the same sample?

From a single sample we can evaluate the presence of endocrine disruptors with the capacity to activate or block the estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormone receptors.

Does the technique allow the detection of different estrogens, androgens and thyroid hormones?

Using in vitro bioassays for transactivation of the luciferase gene, we do not identify the substances responsible for activating or blocking hormone receptors. We globally evaluate the hormonal or anti-hormonal activity of the sample, taking into account synergistic, additive or antagonistic reactions that can occur in samples as complex as environmental ones.

What quantity of sample is necessary to allow the detection of EDs?

The amount of sample that is needed is small, our extraction methodology has been fine-tuned to work with quantities around 10-30 g of dry weight and with less than 1L in the case of liquid samples. 

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  • Teléfono de contacto: 91 347 8788

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