Trenbolone acetate is a synthetic androgen that is currently used as a growth promoter in many meat-exporting countries. Despite industry laboratories classifying trenbolone as nonteratogenic, data showed that embryonic exposure to this androgenic chemical altered development of the immune system in Japanese quail. Trenbolone is lipophilic, persistent, and released into the environment in manure used as soil fertilizer. This is the first study to date to assess this chemical's immunotoxic effects in an avian species. A one-time injection of trenbolone into yolks was administered to mimic maternal deposition, and subsequent effects on the development and function of the immune system were determined in chicks and adults. Development of the bursa of Fabricius, an organ responsible for development of the humoral arm of the immune system, was disrupted, as indicated by lower masse, and smaller and fewer follicles at day 1 of hatch. Morphological differences in the bursas persisted in adults, although no differences in either two measures of immune function were observed. Total numbers of circulating leukocytes were reduced and heterophil-lymphocyte ratios were elevated in chicks but not adults. This study shows that trenbolone acetate is teratogenic and immunotoxic in Japanese quail, and provides evidence that the quail immune system may be fairly resilient to embryonic endocrine-disrupting chemical-induced alterations following no further exposure posthatch.
Additional Publication Details
Immunotoxicity of trenbolone acetate in Japanese quail
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A