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Ecotoxicology. 2000 Dec;9(6):383-97.

Effects of endocrine disruptors on prosobranch snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in the laboratory. Part I: Bisphenol A and octylphenol as xeno-estrogens.

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Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau, Lehrstuhl Umweltverfahrenstechnik, Fachgruppe Human- und Okotoxikologie, Markt 23, D-02763 Zittau, Germany.


The effects of suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals on freshwater and marine prosobranch species were analysed in laboratory experiments. In this first publication, the responses of the freshwater snail Marisa cornuarietis and of the marine prosobranch Nucella lapillus to the xeno-estrogenic model compounds bisphenol A (BPA) and octylphenol (OP) are presented at nominal concentration ranges between 1 and 100 micrograms/L. Marisa was exposed during 5 months using adult specimens and in a complete life-cycle test for 12 months. In both experiments, the xeno-estrogens induced a complex syndrome of alterations in female Marisa referred to as "superfemales" at the lowest concentrations. Affected specimens were characterised by the formation of additional female organs, an enlargement of the accessory pallial sex glands, gross malformations of the pallial oviduct section resulting in an increased female mortality, and a massive stimulation of oocyte and spawning mass production. The effects of BPA and OP were comparable at the same nominal concentrations. An exposure to OP resulted in inverted U-type concentration response relationships for egg and spawning mass production. Adult Nucella from the field were tested for three months in the laboratory. As in Marisa, superfemales with enlarged accessory pallial sex glands and an enhancement of oocyte production were observed. No oviduct malformations were found probably due to species differences in the gross anatomical structure of the pallial oviduct. A lower percentage of exposed specimens had ripe sperm stored in their vesicula seminalis and additionally male Nucella exhibited a reduced length of penis and prostate gland when compared to the control. Because statistically significant effects were observed at the lowest nominal test concentrations (1 microgram BPA or OP/L), it can be assumed that even lower concentrations may have a negative impact on the snails. The results show that prosobranchs are sensitive to endocrine disruption at environmentally relevant concentrations and that especially M. cornuarietis is a promising candidate for a future organismic invertebrate model to identify endocrine-mimetic test compounds.

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