Rapid assessment of endocrine disruption: vitellogenin (Vtg) expression in male estuarine toadfish (Tetratenos glaber Tetraodontiformes)

Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology, 2006, 12 (1), pp. 3 - 8
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Increased contamination of waterways has lead to many impacts on organisms, including effects on reproduction. A suite of endocrine-disruptive chemicals (DECs) has been shown to mimic sex hormones in vertebrates and their presence is an important bioindicator of environmental degradation. We examined expression of vitellogenin (Vtg, a female yolk protein) in male toadfish (Tetratenos glaber), as an indicator of EDC presence in estuaries around Sydney, Australia. First we demonstrated induction of Vtg in males from unpolluted estuarine sites through injection of 17beta-oestradiol. Second, serum of fish from polluted and unpolluted estuaries was collected and examined by reducing-polyacryamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). While females from polluted (downstream from sewage treatment plants, and subject to urban runoff) and less polluted sites all expressed Vtg in blood serum, males from less polluted sites showed little or no evidence of Vtg expression. however, most males from heavilty polluted sites showed moderate to high levels of vtg expression indicating that EDCs were present and affecting normal endocrine function in males. We suggest that simple biochemical examinations of EDS effects, such as vtg induction in males, are useful rapid assessment methods wich can provide evidence upon which further, more detailed studies may be undertaken.
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