In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (38)

Articles by Susan Jobling in JoVE

Other articles by Susan Jobling on PubMed

Reduction in the Estrogenic Activity of a Treated Sewage Effluent Discharge to an English River As a Result of a Decrease in the Concentration of Industrially Derived Surfactants

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC. Mar, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11878464

As a result of the introduction of tighter discharge limits and effluent treatment processes at source, the concentration of alkylphenol ethoxylates and nonylphenol present in the final effluent discharge from a sewage treatment works that treats trade effluent from the textiles industry was reduced. The estrogenic effects of the final effluent discharge to the Aire River were compared over a four-year period during which various treatment measures were introduced. Male rainbow trout exposed to the effluent on four occasions in consecutive years (1994-1997) showed a reduction in the level of induced vitellogenesis between 1994 and 1997. A marked decrease in gonadosomatic index (GSI) and increase in heptaosomatic index (HSI) was measured in fish exposed to the effluent in 1994. In successive years, these differences diminished, and in the case of the GSI no measurable difference was observed between fish exposed to the final effluent or those in the control group in 1997. However, an increase in HSI was still measurable in 1997 in fish exposed to the final effluent and at sites farther downstream. The reduction in the effects of the effluent paralleled the reduction in the concentration of nonylphenol as well as its mono- and diethoxylates, which have been demonstrated to produce estrogenic effects in trout exposed to these compounds in the laboratory. This study demonstrates that the setting of more restricted discharge limits for known estrogenic chemicals of industrial origin can lead to significant reductions in the estrogenic activity of the watercourses into which the effluents are discharged.

Wild Intersex Roach (Rutilus Rutilus) Have Reduced Fertility

Biology of Reproduction. Aug, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 12135890

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, known to be present in the environment, have great potential for interfering with reproductive health in wildlife and humans. There is, however, little direct evidence that endocrine disruption has adversely affected fertility in any organism. In freshwater and estuarine fish species, for example, although a widespread incidence of intersex has been reported, it is not yet known if intersexuality influences reproductive success. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to determine gamete quality in wild intersex roach (Rutilus rutilus) by assessing sperm characteristics, fertilization success, and ability to produce viable offspring. The results clearly demonstrate that gamete production is reduced in intersex roach. A significantly lower proportion of moderately or severely feminized fish (17.4% and 33.3%, respectively) were able to release milt compared with normal male fish from contaminated rivers (in which 97.6% of the males were able to release milt), reference male fish (97.7%), or less severely feminized intersex fish (experiment 1: 85.8%, experiment 2: 97%). Intersex fish that did produce milt produced up to 50% less (in terms of volume per gram of testis weight) than did histologically normal male fish. Moreover, sperm motility (percentage of motile sperm and curvilinear velocity) and the ability of sperm to successfully fertilize eggs and produce viable offspring were all reduced in intersex fish compared with normal male fish. Male gamete quality (assessed using sperm motility, sperm density, and fertilization success) was negatively correlated with the degree of feminization in intersex fish (r = -0.603; P < 0.001) and was markedly reduced in severely feminized intersex fish by as much as 50% in terms of motility and 75% in terms of fertilization success when compared with either less severely feminized intersex fish or unaffected male fish. This is the first evidence documenting a relationship between the morphological effects (e.g., intersex) of endocrine disruption and the reproductive capabilities of any wild vertebrate. The results suggest that mixtures of endocrine-disrupting substances discharged into the aquatic environment could pose a threat to male reproductive health.

Assessing the Sensitivity of Different Life Stages for Sexual Disruption in Roach (Rutilus Rutilus) Exposed to Effluents from Wastewater Treatment Works

Environmental Health Perspectives. Oct, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16203238

Surveys of U.K. rivers have shown a high incidence of sexual disruption in populations of wild roach (Rutilus rutilus) living downstream from wastewater treatment works (WwTW), and the degree of intersex (gonads containing both male and female structural characteristics) has been correlated with the concentration of effluent in those rivers. In this study, we investigated feminized responses to two estrogenic WwTWs in roach exposed for periods during life stages of germ cell division (early life and the postspawning period). Roach were exposed as embryos from fertilization up to 300 days posthatch (dph; to include the period of gonadal sex differentiation) or as postspawning adult males, and including fish that had received previous estrogen exposure, for either 60 or 120 days when the annual event of germ cell proliferation occurs. Both effluents induced vitellogenin synthesis in both life stages studied, and the magnitude of the vitellogenic responses paralleled the effluent content of steroid estrogens. Feminization of the reproductive ducts occurred in male fish in a concentration-dependent manner when the exposure occurred during early life, but we found no effects on the reproductive ducts in adult males. Depuration studies (maintenance of fish in clean water after exposure to WwTW effluent) confirmed that the feminization of the reproductive duct was permanent. We found no evidence of ovotestis development in fish that had no previous estrogen exposure for any of the treatments. In wild adult roach that had previously received exposure to estrogen and were intersex, the degree of intersex increased during the study period, but this was not related to the immediate effluent exposure, suggesting a previously determined programming of ovotestis formation.

Introduction: The Ecological Relevance of Chemically Induced Endocrine Disruption in Wildlife

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818239

Is There a Causal Association Between Genotoxicity and the Imposex Effect?

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818242

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates common environmental pollutants are capable of disrupting reproductive and developmental processes by interfering with the actions of endogenous hormones. Many reports of endocrine disruption describe changes in the normal development of organs and tissues that are consistent with genetic damage, and recent studies confirm that many chemicals classified to have hormone-modulating effects also possess carcinogenic and mutagenic potential. To date, however, there have been no conclusive examples linking genetic damage with perturbation of endocrine function and adverse effects in vivo. Here, we provide the first evidence of DNA damage associated with the development of imposex (the masculinization of female gastropods considered to be the result of alterations to endocrine-mediated pathways) in the dog-whelk Nucella lapillus. Animals (n = 257) that displayed various stages of tributyltin (TBT) -induced imposex were collected from sites in southwest England, and their imposex status was determined by physical examination. Linear regression analysis revealed a very strong relationship (correlation coefficient of 0.935, p < 0.0001) between the degree of imposex and the extent of DNA damage (micronucleus formation) in hemocytes. Moreover, histological examination of a larger number of dog-whelks collected from sites throughout Europe confirmed the presence of hyperplastic growths, primarily on the vas deferens and penis in both TBT-exposed male snails and in females that exhibited imposex. A strong association was found between TBT body burden and the prevalence of abnormal growths, thereby providing compelling evidence to support the hypothesis that environmental chemicals that affect reproductive processes do so partly through DNA damage pathways.

Predicted Exposures to Steroid Estrogens in U.K. Rivers Correlate with Widespread Sexual Disruption in Wild Fish Populations

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818244

Steroidal estrogens, originating principally from human excretion, are likely to play a major role in causing widespread endocrine disruption in wild populations of the roach (Rutilus rutilus), a common cyprinid fish, in rivers contaminated by treated sewage effluents. Given the extent of this problem, risk assessment models are needed to predict the location and severity of endocrine disruption in river catchments and to identify areas where regulation of sewage discharges to remove these contaminants is necessary. In this study we attempted to correlate the extent of endocrine disruption in roach in British rivers, with their predicted exposure to steroid estrogens derived from the human population. The predictions of steroid estrogen exposure at each river site were determined by combining the modeled concentrations of the individual steroid estrogens [17beta-estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and 17alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2)] in each sewage effluent with their predicted dilution in the immediate receiving water. This model was applied to 45 sites on 39 rivers throughout the United Kingdom. Each site studied was then categorized as either high, medium, or low "risk" on the basis of the assumed additive potency of the three steroid estrogens calculated from data derived from published studies in various cyprinid fish species. We sampled 1,438 wild roach from the predicted high-, medium-, and low-risk river sites and examined them for evidence and severity of endocrine disruption. Both the incidence and the severity of intersex in wild roach were significantly correlated with the predicted concentrations of the natural estrogens (E1 and E2) and the synthetic contraceptive pill estrogen (EE2) present. Predicted steroid estrogen exposure was, however, less well correlated with the plasma vitellogenin concentration measured in the same fish. Moreover, we found no correlation between any of the end points measured in the roach and the proportion of industrial effluents entering the rivers we studied. Overall, our results provide further and substantive evidence to support the hypothesis that steroidal estrogens play a major role in causing intersex in wild freshwater fish in rivers in the United Kingdom and clearly show that the location and severity of these endocrine-disrupting effects can be predicted.

Health Effects in Fish of Long-term Exposure to Effluents from Wastewater Treatment Works

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818251

Concern has been raised in recent years that exposure to wastewater treatment effluents containing estrogenic chemicals can disrupt the endocrine functioning of riverine fish and cause permanent alterations in the structure and function of the reproductive system. Reproductive disorders may not necessarily arise as a result of estrogenic effects alone, and there is a need for a better understanding of the relative importance of endocrine disruption in relation to other forms of toxicity. Here, the integrated health effects of long-term effluent exposure are reported (reproductive, endocrine, immune, genotoxic, nephrotoxic) . Early life-stage roach, Rutilus rutilus, were exposed for 300 days to treated wastewater effluent at concentrations of 0, 15.2, 34.8, and 78.7% (with dechlorinated tap water as diluent). Concentrations of treated effluents that induced feminization of male roach, measured as vitellogenin induction and histological alteration to gonads, also caused statistically significant alterations in kidney development (tubule diameter), modulated immune function (differential cell count, total number of thrombocytes), and caused genotoxic damage (micronucleus induction and single-strand breaks in gill and blood cells). Genotoxic and immunotoxic effects occurred at concentrations of wastewater effluent lower than those required to induce recognizable changes in the structure and function of the reproductive endocrine system. These findings emphasize the need for multiple biological end points in tests that assess the potential health effects of wastewater effluents. They also suggest that for some effluents, genotoxic and immune end points may be more sensitive than estrogenic (endocrine-mediated) end points as indicators of exposure in fish.

COMPRENDO: Focus and Approach

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 16818253

Tens of thousands of man-made chemicals are in regular use and discharged into the environment. Many of them are known to interfere with the hormonal systems in humans and wildlife. Given the complexity of endocrine systems, there are many ways in which endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can affect the body's signaling system, and this makes unraveling the mechanisms of action of these chemicals difficult. A major concern is that some of these EDCs appear to be biologically active at extremely low concentrations. There is growing evidence to indicate that the guiding principle of traditional toxicology that "the dose makes the poison" may not always be the case because some EDCs do not induce the classical dose-response relationships. The European Union project COMPRENDO (Comparative Research on Endocrine Disrupters--Phylogenetic Approach and Common Principles focussing on Androgenic/Antiandrogenic Compounds) therefore aims to develop an understanding of potential health problems posed by androgenic and antiandrogenic compounds (AACs) to wildlife and humans by focusing on the commonalities and differences in responses to AACs across the animal kingdom (from invertebrates to vertebrates) .

Novel Estrogen Receptor-related Transcripts in Marisa Cornuarietis; a Freshwater Snail with Reported Sensitivity to Estrogenic Chemicals

Environmental Science & Technology. Apr, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17438828

We have isolated novel molluskan steroid receptor transcripts orthologous to vertebrate estrogen receptors (ERs) and estrogen receptor-related receptors (ERRs) from the freshwater snail Marisa cornuarietis. Radiolabeled ligand binding analyses showed that neither recombinant receptor protein specifically bound 17beta-estradiol over the range applied (0.3-9.6 nM). These novel receptor transcripts have thus been designated mcER-like and mcERR respectively. Quantitative PCR revealed mcER-like to be expressed ubiquitously throughout a range of male and female structures studied, including neural and reproductive tissues. Highest absolute levels were seen in the male penis-sheath complex. The mcERR mRNA was also expressed ubiquitously throughout all male and female tissues analyzed here, with very low absolute transcript numbers in female accessory sex structures compared to other tissues.

Functional Associations Between Two Estrogen Receptors, Environmental Estrogens, and Sexual Disruption in the Roach (Rutilus Rutilus)

Environmental Science & Technology. May, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17539551

Wild male roach (Rutilus rutilus) living in U.K. rivers contaminated with estrogenic effluents from wastewater treatment works show feminized responses and have a reduced reproductive capability, but the chemical causation of sexual disruption in the roach has not been established. Feminized responses were induced in male roach exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of the pharmaceutical estrogen 17alpha-ethinylestradiol, EE2 (up to 4 ng/ L), during early life (from fertilization to 84 days posthatch, dph), and these effects were signaled by altered patterns of expression of two cloned roach estrogen receptor (ER) subtypes, ERalpha. and ERbeta, in the brain and gonad/ liver. Transactivation assays were developed for both roach ER subtypes and the estrogenic potencies of steroidal estrogens differed markedly at the different ER subtypes. EE2 was by far the most potent chemical, and estrone (E1, the most prevalent environmental steroid in wastewater discharges) was equipotent with estradiol (E2) in activating the ERs. Comparison of the EC50 values for the compounds tested showed that ERbeta was 3-21-fold more sensitive to natural steroidal estrogens and 54-fold more sensitive to EE2 as compared to ERalpha. These findings add substantial support to the hypothesis that steroidal estrogens play a significant role in the induction of intersex in roach populations in U.K. rivers and that the molecular approach described could be usefully applied to understand interspecies sensitivity to xenoestrogens.

An Ecological Assessment of Bisphenol-A: Evidence from Comparative Biology

Reproductive Toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.). Aug-Sep, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17604601

This review assesses the effects of environmental concentrations of bisphenol-A (BPA) on wildlife. Water concentrations of BPA vary tremendously due to proximity to point and non-point sources, but reported concentrations in stream/river water samples are less than 21 microg/L, and concentrations in landfill leacheate are less than 17.2mg/L. Extensive evidence indicates that BPA induces feminization during gonadal ontogeny of fishes, reptiles, and birds, but in all cases the amount of BPA necessary to cause such ontogenetic disruption exceeds concentrations in the environment. Extensive evidence also exists that adult exposure to environmental concentrations of BPA is detrimental to spermatogenetic endpoints and stimulates vitellogenin synthesis in model species of fish. Most of the reported effects of BPA on vertebrate wildlife species can be attributed to BPA acting as an estrogen receptor agonist, but mechanisms of disruption in invertebrates are less certain. A comparison of measured BPA environmental concentrations with chronic values suggests that no significant margin of safety exists for the protection of aquatic communities against the toxicity of BPA. Further studies should examine the most vulnerable vertebrate and invertebrate species.

Chapel Hill Bisphenol A Expert Panel Consensus Statement: Integration of Mechanisms, Effects in Animals and Potential to Impact Human Health at Current Levels of Exposure

Reproductive Toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.). Aug-Sep, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17768031

Why Public Health Agencies Cannot Depend on Good Laboratory Practices As a Criterion for Selecting Data: the Case of Bisphenol A

Environmental Health Perspectives. Mar, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19337501

In their safety evaluations of bisphenol A (BPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a counterpart in Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have given special prominence to two industry-funded studies that adhered to standards defined by Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). These same agencies have given much less weight in risk assessments to a large number of independently replicated non-GLP studies conducted with government funding by the leading experts in various fields of science from around the world.

Exposure to Treated Sewage Effluent Disrupts Reproduction and Development in the Seasonally Breeding Ramshorn Snail (subclass: Pulmonata, Planorbarius Corneus)

Environmental Science & Technology. Mar, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19368219

Experiments were conducted to assess the impacts of exposure to sewage treatment works (STW) effluent upon the growth, reproductive function, and sexual development of the European mollusc, Planorbarius corneus under seasonally varying temperatures and photoperiodic conditions. In river water, a clear seasonal change in the number and weight of egg masses (during both 2003 and 2004), and in the number of eggs produced, was found, providing evidence for profound effects of both changing temperature and photoperiod on reproduction. Exposure to STW effluent caused disturbances in this seasonal reproductive cycle at all concentrations tested. The effects included significant dose-dependent increases in fecundity and in the overall length of the reproductive cycle in adult snails exposed to both 50% and 100% effluent relative to river water for a period of up to 14 weeks. Disturbances in the development of both the male and female gametes of the both the adult snails and their developmentally exposed offspring were also seen. These effects were more evident in the offspring than in the adults.

Statistical Modeling Suggests That Antiandrogens in Effluents from Wastewater Treatment Works Contribute to Widespread Sexual Disruption in Fish Living in English Rivers

Environmental Health Perspectives. May, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19479024

The widespread occurrence of feminized male fish downstream of some wastewater treatment works has led to substantial interest from ecologists and public health professionals. This concern stems from the view that the effects observed have a parallel in humans, and that both phenomena are caused by exposure to mixtures of contaminants that interfere with reproductive development. The evidence for a "wildlife-human connection" is, however, weak: Testicular dysgenesis syndrome, seen in human males, is most easily reproduced in rodent models by exposure to mixtures of antiandrogenic chemicals. In contrast, the accepted explanation for feminization of wild male fish is that it results mainly from exposure to steroidal estrogens originating primarily from human excretion.

Validation of a Method for Measuring Sperm Quality and Quantity in Reproductive Toxicity Tests with Pair-breeding Male Fathead Minnows (Pimephales Promelas)

ILAR Journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources. 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19949247

The fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) is an OECD-proposed test species routinely used in reproductive toxicity trials with suspected endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs). The basic fecundity, endocrinology, and histopathology of reproductively active male and female fathead minnows has been well characterized, but there are few studies of the utility of male sperm concentration and motility as endpoints for use in reproductive trials. The purpose of this study was to (1) characterize the baseline sperm concentration and motility of pair-breeding male fathead minnows over their spawning cycle and (2) determine whether a repeated and nondestructive sperm sampling protocol would influence the baseline fecundity of the fish. Pair-breeding male fathead minnows that underwent sampling for milt three times a week for 4 weeks exhibited no significant changes in milt volume, sperm concentration, or motility parameters up to 6 days after each spawning event. The repeated sperm sampling procedure did, however, cause a significant lowering of spawning frequencies, although this decline did not correlate with effects on fecundity as there were no significant changes in the mean total numbers of eggs laid, fertilization, and hatching successes. This study confirmed the presence of a stable background of sperm concentration and motility parameters of pair-breeding male fathead minnows under reference conditions. The absence of any inherent "cycling" in the magnitude of these parameters over the spawning period suggests that sperm concentration and motility could be useful measures of male reproductive toxicity at the termination of tests in which pair-breeding males are at varying days post spawn.

17β-Oestradiol May Prolong Reproduction in Seasonally Breeding Freshwater Gastropod Molluscs

Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Jan, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21216342

Whilst the effects of oestrogenic contaminants in the aquatic environment are well documented in fish, effects in invertebrate species has been subject to debate, possibly due to differences in experimental conditions (temperature, timing and duration of exposure) between studies. It has been suggested that molluscs are only susceptible to oestrogens in periods either following the main spawning or leading up to the maturation of gametes. To investigate this possibility, two temperate, seasonally reproducing gastropods (Planorbarius corneus and Viviparus viviparus) were exposed to two concentrations of 17β-oestradiol (E2; 10ng/l and 100ng/l nominal) in an outdoor mesocosm (subject to natural seasons). In addition, P. corneus was also exposed to E2 (1, 10 and 100ng/l) in the laboratory at temperatures and photoperiods to simulate summer and autumn. In the mesocosm, both snail species produced similar numbers of eggs/embryos as reference groups in the summer, but the groups exposed to 10ngE2/l (nominal) had significantly higher productivities after the onset of autumn, when entering their quiescent phase, whilst the snails exposed to a higher concentration (100ng/l, nominal) had an increased rate of mortality, and did not experience increased reproduction. In the laboratory, the rate of egg laying in P. corneus was unaffected in simulated summer (20°C, 16h photoperiod), but snails exposed to 10 and 100ng/l (nominal) in simulated autumn (15°C, 12h photoperiod) showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of the natural decline in egg laying observed in the control snails. Overall, rather than an increase in reproductive rate, the response of this species was a perpetuation of summer reproductive rates into autumn. We conclude that exposure to E2 can affect reproduction in the freshwater gastropods studied, but in P. corneus at least, this is dependent on the seasonal conditions (temperature and photoperiod) at which exposures are made.

Estrogenic Activity of Tropical Fish Food Can Alter Baseline Vitellogenin Concentrations in Male Fathead Minnow (Pimephales Promelas)

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC. May, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21305580

Vitellogenin (VTG) is a precursor of egg-yolk protein and is therefore present at high concentrations in the plasma of female fish. In male fish, VTG concentrations are usually undetectable or low but can be induced upon exposure to estrogenic substances either via the water or the diet. This work was performed to determine the reason for the apparently elevated VTG concentrations in unexposed stock male fathead minnow maintained in our laboratory. The results showed clearly that some of the food given to the fish was estrogenic and that replacement of this with nonestrogenic food led to a significant reduction in the basal VTG levels measured in male fish after a six-month period. This reduction in male VTG concentrations drastically increased the sensitivity of the VTG test in further studies carried out with these fish. Moreover, a review of published concentrations of VTG in unexposed male fathead minnow suggests that this problem may exist in other laboratories. The fathead minnow is a standard ecotoxicological fish test species, so these findings will be of interest to any laboratory carrying out fish tests on endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

The Consequences of Feminization in Breeding Groups of Wild Fish

Environmental Health Perspectives. Mar, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21362587

The feminization of nature by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is a key environmental issue affecting both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. A crucial and as yet unanswered question is whether EDCs have adverse impacts on the sustainability of wildlife populations. There is widespread concern that intersex fish are reproductively compromised, with potential population-level consequences. However, to date, only in vitro sperm quality data are available in support of this hypothesis.

Additional Treatment of Wastewater Reduces Endocrine Disruption in Wild Fish--a Comparative Study of Tertiary and Advanced Treatments

Environmental Science & Technology. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22500691

Steroid estrogens are thought to be the major cause of feminization (intersex) in wild fish. Widely used wastewater treatment technologies are not effective at removing these contaminants to concentrations thought to be required to protect aquatic wildlife. A number of advanced treatment processes have been proposed to reduce the concentrations of estrogens entering the environment. Before investment is made in such processes, it is imperative that we compare their efficacy in terms of removal of steroid estrogens and their feminizing effects with other treatment options. This study assessed both steroid removal and intersex induction in adult and early life stage fish (roach, Rutilus rutilus). Roach were exposed directly to either secondary (activated sludge process (ASP)), tertiary (sand filtrated (SF)), or advanced (chlorine dioxide (ClO(2)), granular activated charcoal (GAC)) treated effluents for six months. Surprisingly, both the advanced GAC and tertiary SF treatments (but not the ClO(2) treatment) significantly removed the intersex induction associated with the ASP effluent; this was not predicted by the steroid estrogen measurements, which were higher in the tertiary SF than either the GAC or the ClO(2). Therefore our study highlights the importance of using both biological and chemical analysis when assessing new treatment technologies.

Environmental Science: The Hidden Costs of Flexible Fertility

Nature. May, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22622553

The Occurrence, Causes, and Consequences of Estrogens in the Aquatic Environment

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC. Feb, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23325527

The Impact of Endocrine Disruption: a Consensus Statement on the State of the Science

Environmental Health Perspectives. Apr, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23548368

Modeling of Steroid Estrogen Contamination in UK and South Australian Rivers Predicts Modest Increases in Concentrations in the Future

Environmental Science & Technology. Jul, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23631391

The prediction of risks posed by pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the aquatic environment now and in the future is one of the top 20 research questions regarding these contaminants following growing concern for their biological effects on fish and other animals. To this end it is important that areas experiencing the greatest risk are identified, particularly in countries experiencing water stress, where dilution of pollutants entering river networks is more limited. This study is the first to use hydrological models to estimate concentrations of pharmaceutical and natural steroid estrogens in a water stressed catchment in South Australia alongside a UK catchment and to forecast their concentrations in 2050 based on demographic and climate change predictions. The results show that despite their differing climates and demographics, modeled concentrations of steroid estrogens in effluents from Australian sewage treatment works and a receiving river were predicted (simulated) to be similar to those observed in the UK and Europe, exceeding the combined estradiol equivalent's predicted no effect concentration for feminization in wild fish. Furthermore, by 2050 a moderate increase in estrogenic contamination and the potential risk to wildlife was predicted with up to a 2-fold rise in concentrations.

No Substantial Changes in Estrogen Receptor and Estrogen-related Receptor Orthologue Gene Transcription in Marisa Cornuarietis Exposed to Estrogenic Chemicals

Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Sep, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23747549

Estrogen receptor orthologues in molluscs may be targets for endocrine disruptors, although mechanistic evidence is lacking. Molluscs are reported to be highly susceptible to effects caused by very low concentrations of environmental estrogens which, if substantiated, would have a major impact on the risk assessment of many chemicals. The present paper describes the most thorough evaluation to-date of the susceptibility of Marisa cornuarietis ER and ERR gene transcription to modulation by vertebrate estrogens in vivo and in vitro. We investigated the effects of estradiol-17β and 4-tert-Octylphenol exposure on in vivo estrogen receptor (ER) and estrogen-related receptor (ERR) gene transcription in the reproductive and neural tissues of the gastropod snail M. cornuarietis over a 12-week period. There was no significant effect (p>0.05) of treatment on gene transcription levels between exposed and non-exposed snails. Absence of a direct interaction of estradiol-17β and 4-tert-Octylphenol with mollusc ER and ERR protein was also supported by in vitro studies in transfected HEK-293 cells. Additional in vitro studies with a selection of other potential ligands (including methyl-testosterone, 17α-ethinylestradiol, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, diethylstilbestrol, cyproterone acetate and ICI182780) showed no interaction when tested using this assay. In repeated in vitro tests, however, genistein (with mcER-like) and bisphenol-A (with mcERR) increased reporter gene expression at high concentrations only (>10(-6)M for Gen and >10(-5)M for BPA, respectively). Like vertebrate estrogen receptors, the mollusc ER protein bound to the consensus vertebrate estrogen-response element (ERE). Together, these data provide no substantial evidence that mcER-like and mcERR activation and transcript levels in tissues are modulated by the vertebrate estrogen estradiol-17β or 4-tert-Octylphenol in vivo, or that other ligands of vertebrate ERs and ERRs (with the possible exception of genistein and bisphenol A, respectively) would do otherwise.

Assessing the Exposure Risk and Impacts of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment on Individuals and Ecosystems

Biology Letters. Aug, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23804293

The use of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals is increasing. Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of research into potential environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals in the environment. A Royal Society-supported seminar brought together experts from diverse scientific fields to discuss the risks posed by pharmaceuticals to wildlife. Recent analytical advances have revealed that pharmaceuticals are entering habitats via water, sewage, manure and animal carcases, and dispersing through food chains. Pharmaceuticals are designed to alter physiology at low doses and so can be particularly potent contaminants. The near extinction of Asian vultures following exposure to diclofenac is the key example where exposure to a pharmaceutical caused a population-level impact on non-target wildlife. However, more subtle changes to behaviour and physiology are rarely studied and poorly understood. Grand challenges for the future include developing more realistic exposure assessments for wildlife, assessing the impacts of mixtures of pharmaceuticals in combination with other environmental stressors and estimating the risks from pharmaceutical manufacturing and usage in developing countries. We concluded that an integration of diverse approaches is required to predict 'unexpected' risks; specifically, ecologically relevant, often long-term and non-lethal, consequences of pharmaceuticals in the environment for wildlife and ecosystems.

Science and Policy on Endocrine Disrupters Must Not Be Mixed: a Reply to a "common Sense" Intervention by Toxicology Journal Editors

Environmental Health : a Global Access Science Source. 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23981490

The "common sense" intervention by toxicology journal editors regarding proposed European Union endocrine disrupter regulations ignores scientific evidence and well-established principles of chemical risk assessment. In this commentary, endocrine disrupter experts express their concerns about a recently published, and is in our considered opinion inaccurate and factually incorrect, editorial that has appeared in several journals in toxicology. Some of the shortcomings of the editorial are discussed in detail. We call for a better founded scientific debate which may help to overcome a polarisation of views detrimental to reaching a consensus about scientific foundations for endocrine disrupter regulation in the EU.

Populations of a Cyprinid Fish Are Self-sustaining Despite Widespread Feminization of Males

BMC Biology. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24417977

Treated effluents from wastewater treatment works can comprise a large proportion of the flow of rivers in the developed world. Exposure to these effluents, or the steroidal estrogens they contain, feminizes wild male fish and can reduce their reproductive fitness. Long-term experimental exposures have resulted in skewed sex ratios, reproductive failures in breeding colonies, and population collapse. This suggests that environmental estrogens could threaten the sustainability of wild fish populations.

A Path Forward in the Debate over Health Impacts of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Environmental Health : a Global Access Science Source. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25533907

Several recent publications reflect debate on the issue of "endocrine disrupting chemicals" (EDCs), indicating that two seemingly mutually exclusive perspectives are being articulated separately and independently. Considering this, a group of scientists with expertise in basic science, medicine and risk assessment reviewed the various aspects of the debate to identify the most significant areas of dispute and to propose a path forward. We identified four areas of debate. The first is about the definitions for terms such as "endocrine disrupting chemical", "adverse effects", and "endocrine system". The second is focused on elements of hormone action including "potency", "endpoints", "timing", "dose" and "thresholds". The third addresses the information needed to establish sufficient evidence of harm. Finally, the fourth focuses on the need to develop and the characteristics of transparent, systematic methods to review the EDC literature. Herein we identify areas of general consensus and propose resolutions for these four areas that would allow the field to move beyond the current and, in our opinion, ineffective debate.

Environmental Concentrations of Anti-androgenic Pharmaceuticals Do Not Impact Sexual Disruption in Fish Alone or in Combination with Steroid Oestrogens

Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Mar, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25630045

Sexual disruption in wild fish has been linked to the contamination of river systems with steroid oestrogens, including the pharmaceutical 17α-ethinylestradiol, originating from domestic wastewaters. As analytical chemistry has advanced, more compounds derived from the human use of pharmaceuticals have been identified in the environment and questions have arisen as to whether these additional pharmaceuticals may also impact sexual disruption in fish. Indeed, pharmaceutical anti-androgens have been shown to induce such effects under laboratory conditions. These are of particular interest since anti-androgenic biological activity has been identified in the aquatic environment and is potentially implicated in sexual disruption alone and in combination with steroid oestrogens. Consequently, predictive modelling was employed to determine the concentrations of two anti-androgenic human pharmaceuticals, bicalutamide and cyproterone acetate, in UK sewage effluents and river catchments and their combined impacts on sexual disruption were then assessed in two fish models. Crucially, fish were also exposed to the anti-androgens in combination with steroid oestrogens to determine whether they had any additional impact on oestrogen induced feminisation. Modelling predicted that the anti-androgenic pharmaceuticals were likely to be widespread in UK river catchments. However, their concentrations were not sufficient to induce significant responses in plasma vitellogenin concentrations, secondary sexual characteristics or gross indices in male fathead minnow or intersex in Japanese medaka alone or in combination with steroid oestrogens. However, environmentally relevant mixtures of oestrone, 17β-oestradiol and 17α-ethinylestradiol did induce vitellogenin and intersex, supporting their role in sexual disruption in wild fish populations. Unexpectedly, a male dominated sex ratio (100% in controls) was induced in medaka and the potential cause and implications are briefly discussed, highlighting the potential of non-chemical modes of action on this endpoint.

The Nuclear Receptors of Biomphalaria Glabrata and Lottia Gigantea: Implications for Developing New Model Organisms

PloS One. 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25849443

Nuclear receptors (NRs) are transcription regulators involved in an array of diverse physiological functions including key roles in endocrine and metabolic function. The aim of this study was to identify nuclear receptors in the fully sequenced genome of the gastropod snail, Biomphalaria glabrata, intermediate host for Schistosoma mansoni and compare these to known vertebrate NRs, with a view to assessing the snail's potential as a invertebrate model organism for endocrine function, both as a prospective new test organism and to elucidate the fundamental genetic and mechanistic causes of disease. For comparative purposes, the genome of a second gastropod, the owl limpet, Lottia gigantea was also investigated for nuclear receptors. Thirty-nine and thirty-three putative NRs were identified from the B. glabrata and L. gigantea genomes respectively, based on the presence of a conserved DNA-binding domain and/or ligand-binding domain. Nuclear receptor transcript expression was confirmed and sequences were subjected to a comparative phylogenetic analysis, which demonstrated that these molluscs have representatives of all the major NR subfamilies (1-6). Many of the identified NRs are conserved between vertebrates and invertebrates, however differences exist, most notably, the absence of receptors of Group 3C, which includes some of the vertebrate endocrine hormone targets. The mollusc genomes also contain NR homologues that are present in insects and nematodes but not in vertebrates, such as Group 1J (HR48/DAF12/HR96). The identification of many shared receptors between humans and molluscs indicates the potential for molluscs as model organisms; however the absence of several steroid hormone receptors indicates snail endocrine systems are fundamentally different.

Removal of Ecotoxicity of 17α-ethinylestradiol Using TAML/peroxide Water Treatment

Scientific Reports. 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26068117

17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), a synthetic oestrogen in oral contraceptives, is one of many pharmaceuticals found in inland waterways worldwide as a result of human consumption and excretion into wastewater treatment systems. At low parts per trillion (ppt), EE2 induces feminisation of male fish, diminishing reproductive success and causing fish population collapse. Intended water quality standards for EE2 set a much needed global precedent. Ozone and activated carbon provide effective wastewater treatments, but their energy intensities and capital/operating costs are formidable barriers to adoption. Here we describe the technical and environmental performance of a fast- developing contender for mitigation of EE2 contamination of wastewater based upon small- molecule, full-functional peroxidase enzyme replicas called "TAML activators". From neutral to basic pH, TAML activators with H2O2 efficiently degrade EE2 in pure lab water, municipal effluents and EE2-spiked synthetic urine. TAML/H2O2 treatment curtails estrogenicity in vitro and substantially diminishes fish feminization in vivo. Our results provide a starting point for a future process in which tens of thousands of tonnes of wastewater could be treated per kilogram of catalyst. We suggest TAML/H2O2 is a worthy candidate for exploration as an environmentally compatible, versatile, method for removing EE2 and other pharmaceuticals from municipal wastewaters.

Manufacturing Doubt About Endocrine Disrupter Science--A Rebuttal of Industry-sponsored Critical Comments on the UNEP/WHO Report "State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012"

Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology : RTP. Dec, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26239693

We present a detailed response to the critique of "State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012" (UNEP/WHO, 2013) by financial stakeholders, authored by Lamb et al. (2014). Lamb et al.'s claim that UNEP/WHO (2013) does not provide a balanced perspective on endocrine disruption is based on incomplete and misleading quoting of the report through omission of qualifying statements and inaccurate description of study objectives, results and conclusions. Lamb et al. define extremely narrow standards for synthesizing evidence which are then used to dismiss the UNEP/WHO 2013 report as flawed. We show that Lamb et al. misuse conceptual frameworks for assessing causality, especially the Bradford-Hill criteria, by ignoring the fundamental problems that exist with inferring causality from empirical observations. We conclude that Lamb et al.'s attempt of deconstructing the UNEP/WHO (2013) report is not particularly erudite and that their critique is not intended to be convincing to the scientific community, but to confuse the scientific data. Consequently, it promotes misinterpretation of the UNEP/WHO (2013) report by non-specialists, bureaucrats, politicians and other decision makers not intimately familiar with the topic of endocrine disruption and therefore susceptible to false generalizations of bias and subjectivity.

Effects of Exposure to WwTW Effluents over Two Generations on Sexual Development and Breeding in Roach Rutilus Rutilus

Environmental Science & Technology. Nov, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26440068

Exposure to environmental estrogens in wastewater treatment works (WwTW) effluents induces feminized responses in male fish, including the development of eggs in male testes. However, the impacts on the offspring of exposed fish are not well understood. In this study, we examined whether roach (Rutilus rutilus) from mothers that had been exposed to an undiluted WwTW effluent from early life to sexual maturity had altered susceptibility to gonadal feminization and an impaired capacity to reproduce. For males from both WwTW effluent exposed mothers and dilution water exposed mothers, effluent exposure for up to 3 years and 9 months induced feminized male gonads, although the intersex condition was relatively mild. There was no difference in the severity of gonadal feminization in roach derived from either WwTW effluent exposed or dilution water exposed mothers. Furthermore, a breeding study revealed that roach with effluent-exposed mothers reproduced with an equal success as roach with mothers exposed to clean water. Roach exposed to the effluent for 3 years in this study were able to reproduce successfully. Our findings provide no evidence for impacts of WwTW effluent exposure on reproduction or gonadal disruption in roach down the female germ line and add to existing evidence that male roach with a mild intersex condition are able to breed competitively.

The Path Forward on Endocrine Disruptors Requires Focus on the Basics

Toxicological Sciences : an Official Journal of the Society of Toxicology. Feb, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26811417

No Evidence of Exposure to Environmental Estrogens in Two Feral Fish Species Sampled from the Yarra River, Australia: A Comparison with Northern Hemisphere Studies

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Sep, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27228034

Environmental estrogens originate from a variety of sources including sewage treatment plant (STP) effluents and adverse physiological effects (endocrine disruption) have been observed in several fish species sampled downstream of STP discharges. In this study we examined common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and roach (Rutilis rutilis) for signs of exposure to environmental estrogens in the iconic Yarra River, Melbourne, Australia. The Yarra River flows through the city of Melbourne and more than 2 million people live within the catchment. Two STPs discharge water into the Yarra River within the middle reaches, and the areas immediately downstream of these discharge locations were the focus of this study. Carp and roach were chosen as test species since both have been utilised extensively for endocrine disruption research throughout Europe, North America and Asia, and data from various international studies was used for comparison with the results of the present study. Neither species showed evidence of exposure to environmental estrogens, with no elevation of plasma vitellogenin levels in males and no incidence of intersex gonads. Most physiological endpoints in both species from this study were within ranges reported in carp and roach from reference sites in other studies, however some degenerative histological changes in both male and female gonads were observed. Surface water samples showed no estrogenic activity (measured by the yeast-estrogen screen, YES), but did display strong anti-estrogenic and weak androgenic activity (measured by the yeast-androgen screen, YAS). Whilst the results show no evidence of impacts from environmental estrogens in the Yarra River, the presence of both anti-estrogenic and androgenic activity in water samples, as well as some gonadal changes in carp is concerning and indicates that our focus needs to broaden, in order to look for biological impacts in resident fauna that might be due to environmental pollutants other than environmental estrogens.

A Proposed Framework for the Systematic Review and Integrated Assessment (SYRINA) of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Environmental Health : a Global Access Science Source. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27412149

The issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is receiving wide attention from both the scientific and regulatory communities. Recent analyses of the EDC literature have been criticized for failing to use transparent and objective approaches to draw conclusions about the strength of evidence linking EDC exposures to adverse health or environmental outcomes. Systematic review methodologies are ideal for addressing this issue as they provide transparent and consistent approaches to study selection and evaluation. Objective methods are needed for integrating the multiple streams of evidence (epidemiology, wildlife, laboratory animal, in vitro, and in silico data) that are relevant in assessing EDCs.

Steroid Androgen Exposure During Development Has No Effect on Reproductive Physiology of Biomphalaria Glabrata

PloS One. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27448327

Gastropod mollusks have been proposed as alternative models for male reproductive toxicity testing, due to similarities in their reproductive anatomy compared to mammals, together with evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals can cause effects in some mollusks analogous to those seen in mammals. To test this hypothesis, we used the freshwater pulmonate snail, Biomphalaria glabrata, for which various genetic tools and a draft genome have recently become available, to investigate the effects of two steroid androgens on the development of mollusk secondary sexual organs. Here we present the results of exposures to two potent androgens, the vertebrate steroid; 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and the pharmaceutical anabolic steroid; 17α-methyltestosterone (MT), under continuous flow-through conditions throughout embryonic development and up to sexual maturity. Secondary sexual gland morphology, histopathology and differential gene expression analysis were used to determine whether steroid androgens stimulated or inhibited organ development. No significant differences between tissues from control and exposed snails were identified, suggesting that these androgens elicited no biologically detectable response normally associated with exposure to androgens in vertebrate model systems. Identifying no effect of androgens in this mollusk is significant, not only in the context of the suitability of mollusks as alternative model organisms for testing vertebrate androgen receptor agonists but also, if applicable to other similar mollusks, in terms of the likely impacts of androgens and anti-androgenic pollutants present in the aquatic environment.

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