Experimental Approaches for Characterizing the Endocrine-Disrupting Effects of Environmental Chemicals in Fish


Increasing industrial and agricultural activities have led to a disturbing increase of pollutant discharges into the environment. Most of these pollutants can induce short-term, sustained or delayed impacts on developmental, physiological, and behavioral processes that are often regulated by the endocrine system in vertebrates, including fish, thus they are termed endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Physiological impacts resulting from the exposure of these vertebrates to EDCs include abnormalities in growth and reproductive development, as many of the prevalent chemicals are capable of binding the receptors to sex steroid hormones. The approaches employed to investigate the action and impact of EDCs is largely dependent on the specific life history and habitat of each species, and the type of chemical that organisms are exposed to. Aquatic vertebrates, such as fish, are among the first organisms to be affected by waterborne EDCs, an attribute that has justified their wide-spread use as sentinel species. Many fish species are exposed to these chemicals in the wild, for either short or prolonged periods as larvae, adults, or both, thus, studies are typically designed to focus on either acute or chronic exposure at distinct developmental stages. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the approaches and experimental methods commonly used to characterize the effects of some of the environmentally prevalent and emerging EDCs, including 17 α-ethinylestradiol, nonylphenol, BPA, phthalates, and arsenic; and the pervasive and potential carriers of EDCs, microplastics, on reproduction and growth. In vivo and in vitro studies are designed and employed to elucidate the direct effects of EDCs at the organismal and cellular levels, respectively. In silico approaches, on the other hand, comprise computational methods that have been more recently applied with the potential to replace extensive in vitro screening of EDCs. These approaches are discussed in light of model species, age and duration of EDC exposure.

Authors: Fritzie T Celino-Brady, Darren T Lerner, Andre P Seale
; Full Source: Frontiers in endocrinology 2021 Feb 25;11:619361. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.619361.