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Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Mar;110(3):277-84.

Octylphenol and UV-B radiation alter larval development and hypothalamic gene expression in the leopard frog (Rana pipiens).

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  • 1Department of Biology and Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada.


We assessed octylphenol (OP), an estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemical, and UV-B radiation, a known stressor in amphibian development, for their effects on hypothalamic gene expression and premetamorphic development in the leopard frog Rana pipiens. Newly hatched tadpoles were exposed for 10 days to OP alone at two different dose levels; to subambient UV-B radiation alone; and to two combinations of OP and UV-B. Control animals were exposed to ethanol vehicle (0.01%) exposure, a subset of tadpoles from each treatment group was raised to metamorphosis to assess differences in body weight and time required for hindlimb emergence. Tadpoles from one of the OP/UV-B combination groups had greater body weight and earlier hindlimb emergence (p < 0.05), but neither OP nor UV-B alone produced significant changes in body weight or hindlimb emergence, indicating a potential mechanism of interaction between OP and UV-B. We hypothesized that the developing hypothalamus might be a potential environmental sensor for neurotoxicologic studies because of its role in the endocrine control of metamorphosis. We used a differential display strategy to identify candidate genes differentially expressed in the hypothalamic region of the exposed tadpoles. Homology cloning was performed to obtain R. pipiens glutamate decarboxylases--GAD65 and GAD67, enzymes involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). cDNA expression profiles revealed that OP and UV-B affected the levels of several candidate transcripts in tadpole (i.e., Nck, Ash, and phospholipase C gamma-binding protein 4 and brain angiogenesis inhibitor-3) and metamorph (i.e., GAD67, cytochrome C oxidase, and brain angiogenesis inhibitor-2 and -3) brains. This study represents a novel approach in toxicology that combines physiologic and molecular end points and indicates that levels of OP commonly found in the environment and subambient levels of UV-B alter the expression of important hypothalamic genes and disrupt tadpole growth patterns.

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