Estrogenic effects and their action mechanism of the major active components of party pill drugs

Cho Rong Min, Mi Jie Kim, Yong Joo Park, Ha Ryong Kim, Soo Yeun Lee, Kyu Hyuck Chung, Seung Min Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Benzylpiperazine (BZP) and trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP) are commonly used constituents of party pill drugs. They are reported to induce psychoactive effects such as euphoria and provide effects similar with other illicit drugs such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). A great deal of evidence has proven that party pills, as alternatives for MDMA, exert harmful effects on users. However, their toxicological effects have not been fully understood and endocrine disruptive effects are still unknown. In this study, we identified estrogenic effects of BZP and TFMPP by using in vitro and in vivo assays. BZP and TFMPP stimulated cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner, while co-treatment with tamoxifen and BZP or TFMPP showed a decrease of E2-induced cell proliferation. In an estrogen sensitive reporter gene assay, BZP and TFMPP significantly increased transcriptional activities of party pill drugs. In addition, ER-related genes, PR and pS2, were significantly stimulated by BZP and TFMPP. These results indicated that BZP and TFMPP could have estrogenic activities related to the ER-mediated pathway. Unlike the in vitro assay results, BZP and TFMPP did not show significant effects on weight increase in a rodent uterotrophic assay. However, further studies would be necessary to verify the estrogenic activities of BZP and TFMPP by a chronic exposure animal study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 15


  • BZP
  • Endocrine disrupting chemical
  • Estrogen receptor-mediated pathway
  • Party pill drugs
  • Uterotrophic assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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