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Indicators of exposure to estrogenic compounds at Great Lakes Areas of Concern: Species and site comparisons

September 6, 2018

Adverse effects resulting from potential exposure of wild fishes to estrogenic endocrine disruptors was assessed at seven United States Great Lakes Areas of Concern using biomarkers ranging from organismal (gonadosomatic indices) to tissue/plasma (histology, plasma vitellogenin) and molecular (hepatic gene transcripts) levels. Biomonitoring was conducted on pelagic, top predator species, largemouth Micropterus salmoides and smallmouth M. dolomieu bass and benthic, omnivorous white sucker Catostomus commersonii. Seasonal (spring and fall) comparisons were conducted at select sites. Intersex (testicular oocytes), plasma vitellogenin and hepatic vitellogenin transcripts were commonly observed in bass species. Testicular oocyte severity was positively, although weakly, correlated with plasma vitellogenin, hepatic transcripts of vitellogenin, estrogen receptor α and estrogen receptor β2, while negatively correlated with androgen receptor β and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase. No testicular oocytes were observed in white sucker, however, plasma vitellogenin and hepatic vitellogenin transcripts were commonly detected in the males. The results demonstrate the importance of utilizing multiple endpoints to assess exposure to estrogenic compounds as well as the importance of choosing sensitive species.