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Crit Rev Toxicol. 2000 Jul;30(4):347-570.

Ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity in fish as a biomarker of chemical exposure.

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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia Environmetal Research Center (CERC), 65201, USA.


This review compiles and evaluates existing scientific information on the use, limitations, and procedural considerations for EROD activity (a catalytic measurement of cytochrome P4501A induction) as a biomarker in fish. A multitude of chemicals induce EROD activity in a variety of fish species, the most potent inducers being structural analogs of 2,3,7,8-tetracholordibenzo-p-dioxin. Although certain chemicals may inhibit EROD induction/activity, this interference is generally not a drawback to the use of EROD induction as a biomarker. The various methods of EROD analysis currently in use yield comparable results, particularly when data are expressed as relative rates of EROD activity. EROD induction in fish is well characterized, the most important modifying factors being fish species, reproductive status and age, all of which can be controlled through proper study design. Good candidate species for biomonitoring should have a wide range between basal and induced EROD activity (e.g., common carp, channel catfish, and mummichog). EROD activity has proven value as a biomarker in a number of field investigations of bleached kraft mill and industrial effluents, contaminated sediments, and chemical spills. Research on mechanisms of CYP1A-induced toxicity suggests that EROD activity may not only indicate chemical exposure, but also may also precede effects at various levels of biological organization. A current research need is the development of chemical exposure-response relationships for EROD activity in fish. In addition, routine reporting in the literature of EROD activity in standard positive and negative control material will enhance confidence in comparing results from different studies using this biomarker.

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