Assessment of the sensitivity of North American fish species to endocrine disrupting chemicals in vitro
There is concern regarding exposure of aquatic organisms to chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system. Disruption of the endocrine system can lead to impacts on sexual development, altered hormone levels, intersex, and ultimately reproductive failure. While effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on standard laboratory species have been subject of intense study, to this day there is a large gap in knowledge and a high degree of uncertainty regarding the sensitivity of wild fish species to these compounds. One of the main concerns with current toxicity testing approaches is that they require the use of a large number of live animals, particularly when working with native species. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop in vitro tissue explant assays that would enable the assessment of the sensitivity of different wild fish species native to North America to the exposure with EDCs. Specifically, two in vitro assays were developed: 1) A liver explant assay to assess effects of EDCs that can interact with the estrogen receptor (environmental estrogens), and 2) a gonadal explant assay to assess effects of EDCs on sex-steroid production. The test species selected were northern pike (Esox lucius), walleye (Sander vitreus), and white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) that were sampled from Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, Canada, and white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) that were randomly selected from an in house stock reared from eggs. Liver tissue was excised from male fishes and exposed for 24 h to a synthetic estrogen, 17α- ethinylestradiol (EE2). Transcript abundance of vitellogenin (VTG), estrogen receptor (ER) α and β in liver tissue were quantified using qPCR. Gonad tissue from both male and female were excised and exposed for 24 h to a model inducer (forskolin) and inhibitor (prochloraz) of steroidogenesis. 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) and estradiol (E2) were quantified in media by use of ELISA. Exposure to EE2 resulted in a concentration dependent increase in VTG in all species, and an increase in ERα in northern pike. Walleye males showed the greatest sensitivity to EE2. Gonad tissues exposed to forskolin showed a concentration dependent increase in 11-KT and E2. Exposure to prochloraz resulted in a decrease of 11-KTand E2. Male and female white sucker showed greatest sensitivity to forskolin, while male and female walleye showed greatest sensitivity to prochloraz. The seasonal time point during which gonad explants were excised and exposed had an impact on the potency and magnitude of response, resulting in a seasonal effect on sensitivity. Also, gonad explants from these species were found to have greater sensitivity than responses previously reported for in vitro explants of other fish species such as the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), and stable cell lines currently used as screening applications to detect chemicals that might disrupt the endocrine system. Therefore, current approaches that use stable cell lines or tissue explants from standardized small bodied laboratory species might not be protective of some wild fish species. These tissue explants represent a promising approach to help understand species sensitivity to EDCs, and if appropriately validated, could be a powerful tool for chemical screening.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeJanz, David; Hogan, Natacha
Copyright DateJanuary 2015
endocrine disrupting chemical