Comparative responses of molluscs and fish to environmental estrogens and an estrogenic effluent

S Jobling, D Casey, T Rogers-Gray, J Oehlmann, U Schulte-Oehlmann, S Pawlowski, T Baunbeck, A P Turner, C R Tyler
Aquatic Toxicology 2004 February 10, 66 (2): 207-22
It is now well established that there is a diverse array of chemical discharged into the environment that can mimic or antagonise the action of hormones. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can thus interact with physiological systems and cause alterations in development, growth and reproduction in wildlife that are exposed to them. As yet, however, there is little information on the relative sensitivities of different wild life groups to these chemicals and/or mixtures of them (e.g. estrogenic effluents) and hence, there are fundamental shortfalls in our knowledge of the ecological chemicals (17alpha-ethinylestradiol; EE2, bisphenol-A, and 4-tert octylphenol) and a mixture containing these chemicals (treated sewage effluent) on embryo production in the prosobranch mollusc, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, were studied and compared with the effects of EE2 and the same estrogenic effluent on vitellogenin induction and/or egg production in various species of freshwater fish (fathead minnow; Pimaphales promelas, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss); Cyprinus carpio, carp; Cyprinus carpio). The lab-based studies demonstrated that all of the tested chemicals (known to be estrogenic and to cause reproductive effects in fish) also affected embryo production in P. antipodarum. Furthermore, exposure to EE2 induced similar reproductive responses in the snails as in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), stimulating egg/embryo production at low doses (up to 1 ng/l in the minnow and 25 ng/l in the snail) and causing inhibitory effects at higher doses. A similar pattern of embryo production occurred in P. antipodarum when it was exposed to a graded concentration of treated sewage effluent containing mixtures of estrogenic EDCs and hence, the total number of new embryos produced by the snails increased steadily over the 9 week exposure period in treated snails. Plasma vitellogenin concentrations in two species of male fish (the rainbow trout and the carp) also increased over the same time period. These data indicate that both the nature of the response and the relative sensitivities to environmental estrogens in P. antipodarum and three different fish species fish are comparable. P. andtipodarum is thus, potentially a sensitive test organism for assessing estrogenicity of chemicals with a relevance to their activity in vertebrates.

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