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Mar Environ Res. 2001 Feb;51(1):75-89.

Bioconcentration and distribution of 4-tert-octylphenol residues in tissues of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Science, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QJ, UK.


Branched chain alkylphenols are weak oestrogen mimics which are present in the aquatic environment and have been implicated in the feminisation of fish. This study reports the biotransformation, bioconcentration and tissue distribution of the xenoestrogen 4-tert-octylphenol (t-OP) in juvenile rainbow trout. Fish were exposed for 10 days to a concentration of 4 micrograms/l of [14C] t-OP in a flow-through system and were sampled after 1, 4, 7 and 10 days of exposure. t-OP residues were extracted from all tissues and analysed by radio-high-performance liquid chromatography. After 1 day of exposure radioactive residues were detected in all tissues and reached steady state conditions in the whole fish after 4 days of exposure. The concentration of t-OP residues were highest in bile, followed by faeces, pyloric caeca, liver and intestine. In these tissues the majority of alkylphenol was in the form of two metabolites which were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy as the glucuronide conjugates of t-OP and t-octylcatechol. t-OP accumulated as the parent compound in fat with a bioconcentration factor (BCF) of 1190, and in brain, muscle, skin, bone, gills, and eye with BCFs of between 100 and 260. This study suggests that exposure to water-borne alkylphenols results in rapid conjugation and elimination of the chemical via the liver/bile route, but that high amounts of the parent xenoestrogen can accumulate in a variety of other fish tissues.

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