The effects of transovarian exposure to p,p-DDT and p,p-DDE on avian reproduction using Japanese quails.
In the 1950s to 1970s developed countries reported declines in populations of raptorial and fish-eating birds and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites were considered causative substances because they accumulated significantly in the tissues of wild birds and animals. However, except for the estrogenic effects of o,p-DDT, a minor component of commercial DDT, there has been no compelling evidence that DDT directly affects avian reproductive systems. To assess the possible impact of DDT on development and reproduction of birds, exposure experiments to the major component of commercial DDT, p,p-DDT, and its persistent metabolite, p,p-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), were performed using Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) eggs; the test substances (3 to 100 ?g/g) were injected into the yolk prior to incubation, and hatched chicks were raised to adulthood. p,p-DDT had no significant effects on the morphology and function of the reproductive systems, although the hatchability of treated eggs was reduced at the highest dose (100 ?g/g). High doses of p,p-DDE slightly enhanced the eggshell forming ability of female quails; eggshell mass and thickness were increased at 30 ?g/g or more although no morphological changes were observed in the oviduct. Transcriptions of the CYP11A1 gene in the ovaries, and of AHR and ARNT in the livers, of adult females were significantly increased at 3 ?g/g or more of p,p-DDT. Except for low hatchability, transovarian exposure to p,p-DDT or p,p-DDE did not markedly impair the avian reproductive systems, but the hormonal actions of these compounds are likely to change reproductive and hepatic functions even after maturation.