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Effects of benzo(a)pyrene exposure on killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) aromatase activities and mRNA

Aquatic Toxicology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2005.12.009
  • Aromatase
  • Fundulus
  • Benzo(A)Pyrene
  • Biology


Abstract Cytochrome P450 aromatase (CYP19) plays an important role in steroid homoeostasis by converting androgens to estrogens. To evaluate the effects of benzo( a)pyrene (BaP), a model carcinogenic PAH and AhR ligand, on aromatase mRNA expression and enzyme activity, adult Fundulus were exposed to water-borne BaP (1 and 10 μg/L) for 15 days, and embryos were exposed to 10 μg/L for 10 days. Effects of BaP were examined by tissue, gender, and season in adults. Constitutively, the sexes did not have significantly different CYP19A2 mRNA levels, however females had higher brain aromatase activity. Female control killifish had more than 700-fold more CYP19A1 mRNA in their gonads compared to males. Within brain tissue of both sexes, there was 100-fold more CYP19A2 mRNA compared to CYP19A1. In ovary, CYP19A1 predominated by approximately 30-fold over the CYP19A2, but in testis there was relatively more CYP19A2. In embryos there was ∼5-fold higher CYP19A2 expression. Due to high inter-individual variability, a significant effect of BaP treatment by gender, season or age was not observed for either aromatase mRNA. However, ovarian aromatase activity was significantly decreased by 10 μg/L BaP, while female brain activity was increased following winter exposure. These findings suggest that the aromatase enzyme is a potential target for disruption of fish developmental and reproductive physiology by BaP.

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