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Effects of exposure to 17alpha-ethinylestradiol during early development on sexual differentiation and induction of vitellogenin in zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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  • 1University of Southern Denmark, Institute of Biology, Campusvej 55, Odense, M DK-5230, Denmark.


To determine the critical stage of zebrafish development where exposure to xenoestrogens can affect sex ratio and vitellogenin induction, zebrafish (Danio rerio) were exposed to 17alpha-ethinylestradiol (actual concentration 15.4+/-1.4 ng EE2/l) during early development: from fertilisation to hatch; hatch to 10 days post hatch (dph); 10-20 dph; 20-30 dph; 20-40 dph; 20-60 dph; fertilisation to 25 dph; or hatch to 60 dph. Vitellogenin was measured in whole body homogenate 30 dph by ELISA and sex ratio was determined 60 dph by histological examination of the gonads. All exposure periods significantly induced vitellogenin synthesis and affected the sex differentiation leading to development of ovo-testis or complete feminisation of the exposed fish depending on exposure period. Complete sex reversal was obtained in groups exposed from 20 to 60 dph and hatch to 60 dph. The half-life for degradation of vitellogenin was calculated. Juvenile zebrafish were exposed to 15.4+/-1.4 ng EE2/l (actual concentration) from fertilisation to 25 dph and transferred to clean water, after which weekly measurements of vitellogenin concentration in whole body homogenate were performed until day 46 post hatch. The half-life of vitellogenin was 2.4 days.

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