Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are endangered anadromous fish that may be exposed to feminizing endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) during early development, potentially altering physiological capacities, survival and fitness. To assess differential life stage sensitivity to common EDCs, we carried out short-term (four day) exposures using three doses each of 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), 17β-estradiol (E2), and nonylphenol (NP) on four early life stages; embryos, yolk-sac larvae, feeding fry and one year old smolts. Differential response was compared using vitellogenin (Vtg, a precursor egg protein) gene transcription. Smolts were also examined for impacts on plasma Vtg, cortisol, thyroid hormones (T4/T3) and hepatosomatic index (HSI). Compound-related mortality was not observed in any life stage, but Vtg mRNA was elevated in a dose-dependent manner in yolk-sac larvae, fry and smolts but not in embyos. The estrogens EE2 and E2 were consistently stronger inducers of Vtg than NP. Embryos responded significantly to the highest concentration of EE2 only, while older life stages responded to the highest doses of all three compounds, as well as intermediate doses of EE2 and E2. Maximal transcription was greater for fry among the three earliest life stages, suggesting fry may be the most responsive life stage in early development. Smolt plasma Vtg was also significantly increased, and this response was observed at lower doses of each compound than was detected by gene transcription suggesting this is a more sensitive indicator at this life stage. HSI was increased at the highest doses of EE2 and E2 and plasma T3 decreased at the highest dose of EE2. Our results indicate that all life stages after hatching are potentially sensitive to endocrine disruption by estrogenic compounds and that physiological responses were altered over a short window of exposure, indicating the potential for these compounds to impact fish in the wild.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Comparative responses to endocrine disrupting compounds in early life stages of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar|
|Series title||Aquatic Toxicology|
|Contributing office(s)||Leetown Science Center|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|