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Vitellogenin induction by xenobiotic estrogens in the red-eared turtle and African clawed frog.

  • B D Palmer
  • S K Palmer
Publication Date
May 01, 1995
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Many environmental pollutants have estrogenic activity in animals. Xenobiotic estrogens include many pesticides and industrial chemicals that biocumulate. The impact of these common pollutants on the reproductive success of wildlife may be considerable, particularly in threatened or endangered species. This research examined the use of plasma vitellogenin in males as a biomarker for estrogenic xenobiotics in reptiles and amphibians. Adult male turtles (Trachemys scripta) and frogs (Xenopus laevis) were given ip injections of estradiol-17 beta (E2), diethylstilbestrol (DES), or o,p'-DDT (1-chloro-2-[2,2,2-trichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethyl)benzene) daily for 7 days, and plasma was collected on day 14. The estrogenic activity of each compound was determined by measuring the induction of plasma vitellogenin. Vitellogenin was identified by precipitation, electrophoresis, Western blot, and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA). In both species, estradiol and DES treatments induced the most vitellogenin, whereas DDT treatments induced smaller amounts of vitellogenin in a dose-dependent fashion. These data indicate that induction of plasma vitellogenin in males may be a useful biomarker of xenobiotic estrogen activity in wild populations of reptiles and amphibians.


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