Effects of a weak oestrogenic active chemical (4-tert-pentylphenol) on pair-breeding and F1 development in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)

G H Panter, T H Hutchinson, K S Hurd, J Bamforth, R D Stanley, J R Wheeler, C R Tyler
Aquatic Toxicology 2010 May 10, 97 (4): 314-23
A fish full life-cycle (FFLC) is the most comprehensive test to determine reproductive toxicity of chemicals to fish and this is likely to apply equally to endocrine active chemicals (EACs). However, FFLC tests use large numbers of animals, are expensive and time consuming. Alternative chronic tests, to the FFLC, potentially include sensitive life-stage windows of effect, such as sexual differentiation, early gonadal development and reproduction. In this paper, a fish pair-breeding study was applied to assess the biological effects of a weak environmental oestrogen, 4-tert-pentylphenol (4TPP), on reproduction and subsequent development of the F1 generation. The results of this study were then compared with the results for a published FFLC study, with this chemical. Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were held in pairs and their reproductive performance assessed over two concurrent 21-day periods, the first without exposure to the test chemical, followed by the second with exposure to the test chemical, in a flow-through system at 25+/-1 degrees C. Embryos from two pairs, per treatment, were subsequently grown up in clean water until 90 days post-hatch to assess developmental effects of the parental exposure on the F1 generation. Nominal (measured geometric mean, time weighted) test concentrations of 4TPP were 56 (48), 180 (173) and 560 (570) microg l(-1). A significant decrease in fecundity was observed in all 4TPP exposed fish (mean number of eggs spawned per pair and number of spawns per pair) when compared to the solvent control. Vitellogenin (VTG) was significantly elevated in F0 males exposed to 560 microg 4TPPl(-1). Somatic endpoints, secondary sexual characteristics (SSC) and gonadosomatic index (GSI) were not affected by the 4TPP exposure. In the F1 generation, there were no treatment-related effects on hatching success, survival, growth, SSC or GSI. Histological examination of the gonads of the F1 fish revealed no treatment-related effects on sex ratio, sexual differentiation or sexual development. However, plasma VTG concentrations were significantly elevated in F1 male fish, derived from parents that had previously been exposed to 4TPP at concentrations of > or = 180 microg l(-1). These data show that the reproductive performance test is suitable for detecting weak environmental oestrogenic chemicals and that exposure of adult fish to oestrogens can result in altered biomarker expression (VTG) of the F1 generation. Our findings indicate that the reproductive performance test was as sensitive for detecting effects on reproduction when compared with a published FFLC test for 4TPP.

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