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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2010 Jul;59(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s00244-009-9438-0. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Biological analysis of endocrine-disrupting compounds in Tunisian sewage treatment plants.

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Institut Supérieur de Biotechnologie de Monastir, Tunisie.


Endocrin-disrupting compounds (EDCs) are frequently found in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). So far, research has been mainly focused on the detection of estrogenic compounds and very little work has been carried out on other receptors activators. In this study, we used reporter cell lines, which allow detecting the activity of estrogen (ERalpha), androgen (AR), pregnane X (PXR), glucocorticoid (GR), progesterone (PR), mineralocorticoid (MR), and aryl hydrocarbon (AhR) receptors, to characterise the endocrine-disrupting profile of the aqueous, suspended particulate matter, and sludge fractions from three Tunisian WWTPs. The aqueous fraction exhibited estrogenic and androgenic activities. Suspended particulate matter and sludge extracts showed estrogenic, aryl hydrocarbon and pregnane X receptor activities. No GR, MR, or PR (ant) agonistic activity was detected in the samples, suggesting that environmental compounds present in sewage might have a limited spectrum of activity. By performing competition experiments with recombinant ERalpha, we demonstrated that the estrogenic activity detected in the aqueous fraction was due to EDCs with a strong affinity for ERalpha. Conversely, in the sludge fraction, it was linked to the presence of EDCs with weak affinity. Moreover, by using different incubation times, we determined that the EDCs present in suspended particulate matter and sludge, which can activate AhR, are metabolically labile compounds. Finally, we showed in this study that environmental compounds are mainly ER, AR, PXR, and AhR activators. Concerning AR and PXR ligands, we do not to know the nature of the molecules. Concerning ER and AhR compounds, competition experiments with recombinant receptor and analysis at different times of exposure of the AhR activation gave some indications of the compound's nature that need to be confirmed by chemical analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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