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Aquat Toxicol. 2008 Jun 2;88(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2008.01.020. Epub 2008 Feb 23.

Exposure to 17alpha-ethynylestradiol impairs reproductive functions of both male and female zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Shanghai Medical College and Key Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Ministry of Education, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, PR China.


In this study, the impact of 17alpha-ethynylestradiol (EE2) on reproduction in zebrafish (Danio rerio) was evaluated using vitellogenin (Vtg) induction, mortality rate, growth, sex ratio, gonad histology, fecundity, and sperm parameters as endpoints. Two days post-hatch (2dph) zebrafish were exposed to solvent control or EE2 at 0.4, 2, and 10ng/l for 3 months. At 21dph, Vtg mRNA expression was detected only in fish exposed to 10ng/l EE2. At 90dph, increased mortality rate and sex ratio (female:male) were observed in fish exposed to 2 and 10ng/l EE2. A dose-dependent increase in gonads with underdeveloped gametes was observed in fish exposed to EE2. At 180dph, malformation of the sperm duct and reduced number of spermatozoa were found in fish exposed to 2ng/l and 10ng/l EE2. Reduced fecundity and 12hpf egg viability were found in EE2-exposed males and females. The number of fish with no expressible milt was elevated dose dependently in EE2-exposed males, although no difference in sperm density was found. After a 3-month recovery period, growth and sex ratio were partially recovered. Our findings suggest that EE2 can adversely affect the fecundity, sex differentiation, gametes development, and other reproductive functions of both male and female zebrafish, and some of the toxic effects persist.

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