Reproductive Effects of Estrogenic and Antiestrogenic Chemicals on Sheepshead Minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus)

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Environmental estrogens can activate genes of the reproductive system, such as vitellogenin (VTG), a precursor to egg yolk protein. by activating the estrogen receptor (ER), whereas antiestrogens can inhibit ER activation. Adult tab-reared male sheepshead minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus) were exposed to estrogenic 4-tert-octylphenol (OP) and females to antiestrogenic cadmium (Cd). and the effects on four potential indicators of impaired reproductive function were examined: VTG in F-0 male blood as sign of feminization, F-0 generation fecundity/fertility, embryonic development/egg hatching/survival rate of F-1 generation fry, and F-0 gonadal histology. Mean VTG in the control, 11.5, 33.6, and 61.1 mug/L OP male fish were 0, 10.7, 38.7, and 65.6 mg/ml postexposure and 0, 2.5 19.4, and 30.0 mg/ml postreproduction. A significant inverse relationship between increasing VTG in male blood and reproductive success of mating groups involving these males was shown, with higher OP decreasing percent viable eggs (fertility) by approximately 60%. Histology showed increased testis anomalies and decreased spermatozoa with increasing OP exposure. No effects on F-1 embryonic development, egg hatching, or fry survival rate were observed. A significant decline in percent viable egg production involving Cd-exposed females occurred only when mated with OP-exposed males, with no eggs produced by fish exposed to the highest OP and Cd concentration. A three-week field exposure near a wastewater treatment plant outfall showed no elevated VTG in male plasma, but significantly higher total egg production per female per collection day (similar to45%) was observed at the site furthest from the outfall.

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Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry





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