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Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Oct;103 Suppl 7:9-15.

Universal assay of vitellogenin as a biomarker for environmental estrogens.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, Raleigh 27695, USA.


Vitellogenin (VTG), the serum phospholipoglycoprotein precursor to egg yolk, is potentially an ideal biomarker for environmental estrogens. This study was undertaken to develop antibodies against conserved regions on the VTG molecule that could form the basis for establishing bioassays to detect estrogen exposure in any oviparous vertebrate. We developed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) generated against purified rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) VTG and selected for the property of specifically recognizing VTG purified from two phylogenetically distant vertebrates, trout and striped bass (Morone saxatilis). Results of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blotting indicated that these mAbs specifically recognize purified VTG and VTG or other estrogen-inducible proteins in plasma or serum from representative species of four vertebrate classes (fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds). All of the mAbs generated were IgM class. A polyclonal antiserum was raised against a synthetic consensus peptide representing the conserved N-terminal amino acid sequence of VTG. The results of Western blotting indicate that this antiserum specifically recognizes VTG in plasma or serum from teleost fish of diverse families. It was used to detect VTG in Western blots of serum from brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) with cancer (hepatocellular and cholangio-carcinoma) collected from a contaminated industrial site outside of their normal vitellogenic season. Our results indicate that it is feasible to generate antibodies capable of recognizing VTG without regard to species and that development of a universal VTG assay is an achievable goal.

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