Brion, F., Tyler, C.R., Palazzi, X., Laillet, B., Porcher, J.M., Garric, J., and Flammarion, P. (2004) Impacts of 17beta-estradiol, including environmentally relevant concentrations, on reproduction after exposure during embryo-larval-, juvenile- and adult-life stages in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 68(3):193-217.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were exposed for 3 weeks to low concentrations of estradiol including environmentally relevant concentrations (5, 25 and 100ng/l), encompassing either their embryo-larvae (from fertilization to 21 day post-fertilization (dpf)), juvenile (from 21 to 42 dpf) or adult life stages (>200 dpf) with a view to investigating the most sensitive life stage of the zebrafish to 17beta-estradiol (E2). At all sampling points, whole-body vitellogenin concentrations and gonadal development were analyzed in order to investigate the effects of estrogen exposure on these endpoint in the zebrafish. In the adult stage, additional endpoints were measured including secondary sexual characteristics (manifestation of the uro-genital papillae (UGP) in males), gonadal growth (the gonado-somatic index (GSI)) and sex ratio. For all the different life stage exposures, reproductive performance of the F0 generation was assessed (egg production) and survival and development of the F1 embryo-larvae. Exposure to low concentrations of E2 resulted in vitellogenin induction whatever the life stage exposed but these effects were reversible after depuration. The effective concentration for vitellogenin induction in zebrafish early life stages was 100ng E2/l, and in adult male zebrafish the effective concentration for vitellogenin induction (between 5 and 25ng/l) was lower than for the early life stage fish. Exposure to E2 prior to (from fertilization to 21 dpf) and during the time of sex differentiation (from 21 to 42 dpf) also caused disruptions in the process of sexual differentiation (resulting in formation of a retrogonadal cavity in presumptive male, germ cell development and leading to a significant change of the sex ratio towards the female sex at the dose of 100ng E2/l for the fish exposure as embryo-larvae) and altered patterns of egg production in the subsequent adults. Exposure of adult fish to E2 resulted in a modification of the secondary sexual characteristic in males at 25 and 100ng E2/l as well as a dose-dependent inhibition of egg production. The findings from this study show that the nature and intensity of the reproductive effects of E2 are dependent of the time and concentration of exposures of zebrafish to E2, some of these effects being permanent (effect on the sexual differentiation) while others being reversible (effect on the Vtg induction). This study demonstrated that early life stages of zebrafish are sensitive to low concentrations of E2 and provides relevant data that could be used for the adaptation of existing fish early life stage test for the in vivo testing of estrogenic compounds. The data presented raise further concerns about the effects of steroid estrogens in the environment on fish reproductive health.