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Estrogen mimicking effects of xenobiotics in fish

BioMed Central
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DOI: 10.1186/1751-0147-54-s1-s12
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Estrogen mimicking effects of xenobiotics in fish MEETING ABSTRACT Open Access Estrogen mimicking effects of xenobiotics in fish Poul Bjerregaard From Environmental contaminants and animal health. The 26th Symposium of the Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation (NKVet) Helsinki, Finland. 6-7 October 2011 Sex hormones produced in humans and livestock are excreted in the urine. Naturally produced and synthetic contraceptive pill estrogens may pass low-quality waste water processing plants and feminize male fish in streams and coastal areas downstream such discharges [1,2]. High-quality processing of the wastewater with tertiary treatment, nutrient removal and sufficient water and sludge retention times basically removes the pro- blem [3,4]. The feminization of male fish downstream waste water discharges has mainly been demonstrated by the presence of elevated levels of female yolk protein (vitellogenin) in the blood of male or juvenile fish or eggs (or oocytes) in the testes (intersex) [5]. Both of these phenomena are used as biomarkers for estrogenic effects and as always in the use of biomarkers, it is important to define the natural background level in an uncontaminated environment. The first investigations on intersex in roach showed that male fish in areas not directly affected by waste- water discharges had intersex percentages between 5 and 11% [1,6], suggesting that there might be a low, nat- ural occurrence of this phenomenon. Recent investiga- tions [7] in pristine areas do, however, show no intersex among the males, indicating that the natural background level of intersex roach may actually be zero. Plasma levels in male or juvenile fish have been used as an efficient biomarker to detect estrogenic contamina-tion in both freshwater and marine areas and a number of stu- dies [e.g. [8,9]] have presented vitellogenin levels that are markedly and unambiguously elevated - maybe several orders of magnitude - compared to background levels. Less effort has

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