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Mar Environ Res. 2013 Mar;84:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2012.11.003. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

A simple and reliable in vivo EROD activity measurement in single Fundulus heteroclitus embryo and larva.

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  • 1EPOC-LPTC, UMR CNRS 5805, Université de Bordeaux 1, Talence 33405, France.


Dioxin-like compounds (DLC) induce toxic responses in early life stages of fish through activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) which is frequently assessed by ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity. A novel spectrofluorimetric method was developed to quantitatively assess EROD activity in individual living embryos and prolarvae of a marine model fish species, the mummichog Fundulus heteroclitus. This in vivo method is based on the measurement of the production of resorufin by single live embryos or prolarvae after 5 h incubation with ethoxyresorufin. Freshly fertilized eggs were treated topically from 2.5 to 50 pg egg⁻¹, with 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB126), a prototypical DLC. EROD activity was assessed in embryos (7 days post-fertilization) and prolarvae (16 days post-fertilization). Resorufin was measured both in the culture medium (25‰ seawater) and in whole fish homogenates, to assess the percentage retained in the body. Approximately 95% and 17% of the resorufin produced in vivo was retained in embryos and prolarvae respectively. EROD activity in homogenates of embryos and in the culture medium of prolarvae increased linearly with dose. EROD activity measured by the in vivo method was highly correlated to that measured by a traditional in vitro technique using S9 fractions for both embryos and prolarvae. Both in vivo and in vitro EROD activity were higher in prolarvae than in embryos pretreated with PCB126. EROD induction measured in prolarvae by the in vivo and in vitro methods were similar whereas higher induction was measured in vivo than in vitro in embryos. The in vivo method was more sensitive and as reliable as the in vitro technique, and required a lower number of fish (4 compared to 3 pools of 5). This in vivo method is useful to link EROD induction in individual embryos or prolarvae to other organism-level responses. Further studies with other categories of xenobiotics should be performed to assess potential toxic effects on resorufin absorption/excretion processes which could affect in vivo measurements.

Crown Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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