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Reprod Toxicol. 2005 Jan-Feb;19(3):395-409.

Modeling vitellogenesis in female fish exposed to environmental stressors: predicting the effects of endocrine disturbance due to exposure to a PCB mixture and cadmium.

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  • 1Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Energy, Coast and Environment Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


A wide variety of chemical and physical environmental stressors have been shown to alter the reproductive processes in fish by interfering with endocrine function. Most endocrine indicators or biomarkers are static measures from dynamic hormonally-mediated processes, and often do not directly relate to reproductive endpoints of ecological significance. Adequate production of the yolk precursor protein, vitellogenin, is critical for the survival and normal development of the sensitive egg and yolk-sac larval fish life stages. We developed a model that simulates vitellogenesis in a mature female sciaenid fish. The model simulates the major biochemical reactions over a 6-month period from the secretion of gonadotropin (GtH) into the blood to the production of vitellogenin. We simulated the effects of two endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that have different actions on vitellogenin production: a PCB mixture and cadmium. Predicted changes in steroid concentrations and cumulative vitellogenin production compared favorably with changes reported in laboratory experiments. Simulations illustrate the potential utility of our model for interpreting reproductive endocrine biomarkers measured in fish collected from degraded environments.

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