Drugged Wildlife: The Potential Impacts of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Development
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The growing use of oral contraceptives and hormone therapeutics gives rise to the concern that estrogenic and progestogenic compounds are present in wastewater at concentrations that may affect aquatic species. This study showed that wastewater effluent produced by the Charleston Water System facility at Plum Island, when concentrated 100 times, contains endocrine active compounds that activate the human nuclear estrogen and progesterone receptors in an in vitro transactivation assay system. This may provide a mechanism for the alterations in secondary sex characteristics that have been reported in fish exposed to wastewater effluent from other locations. Some synthetic hormones have also been found to be bioaccumulated in teleost fishes. There is, therefore, potential for humans to be exposed to these endocrine active compounds through consumption of these fishes. The current study evaluated the effects of neonatal exposure to progestogens on the regulation of reproductive development by estradiol (E2) stimulation in adults, using mice as a model. Quantitative PCR analysis of target genes from mice treated with the synthetic progesterone 17α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17PC) as neonates suggested that developmental exposure to progestogens might decrease sensitivity to E2 at the uterine transcriptome level, and showed patterns similar to microarray data that revealed that perinatal exposure to 17PC suppressed uterine E2 sensitivity in the adult. These data indicate a need for further exploration of the subject.
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