Publication date: December 2019
Source: Aquatic Toxicology, Volume 217
Author(s): Robert J. Rutherford, Andrea L. Lister, Deborah L. MacLatchyAbstract
Numerous anthropogenic sources, such as pulp mill and sewage treatment effluents, contain androgenic endocrine disrupting compounds that alter the reproductive status of aquatic organisms. The current study injected adult male mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) with 0 (control), 1 pg/g, 1 ng/g or 1 μg/g body weight of the model androgen 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) with the intent to induce a period of plasma sex hormone depression, a previously-observed effect of DHT in fish. A suite of gonadal steroidogenic genes were assessed during sex hormone depression and recovery. Fish were sampled 6, 12, 16, 18, 24, 30 and 36 h post-injection, and sections of testis tissue were either snap frozen immediately or incubated for 24 h at 18 °C to determine in vitro gonadal hormone production and then frozen. Plasma testosterone (T) and 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) were depressed beginning 24 h post-injection. At 36 h post-injection plasma T remained depressed while plasma 11KT had recovered. In snap frozen tissue there was a correlation between plasma sex hormone depression and downregulation of key steroidogenic genes including steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (star), cytochrome P450 17a1 (cyp17a1), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βhsd), 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11βhsd) and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17βhsd). Similar to previous studies, 3βhsd was the first and most responsive gene during DHT exposure. Gene responses from in vitro tissue were more variable and included the upregulation of 3βhsd, 11βhsd and star during the period of hormone depression. The differential expression of steroidogenic genes from the in vitro testes compared to the snap frozen tissues may be due to the lack of regulators from the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis present in whole-animal systems. Due to these findings it is recommended to use snap frozen tissue, not post-incubation tissue from in vitro analysis, for gonadal steroidogenic gene expression to more accurately reflect in vivo responses.