Two complementary bioassays for screening the estrogenic potency of xenobiotics: recombinant yeast for trout estrogen receptor and trout hepatocyte cultures

in Journal of Molecular Endocrinology
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A relation between the chemical structure of a xenobiotic and its steroidal action has not yet been clearly established. Thus, it is not possible to define the estrogenic potency of different xenobiotics. An assessment may be accomplished by the use of different bioassays. We have previously developed a yeast system highly and stably expressing rainbow trout estrogen receptor (rtER) in order to analyze the biological activity of the receptor. The recombinant yeast system appears to be a reliable, rapid and sensitive bioassay for the screening and determination of the direct interaction between ER and estrogenic compounds. This system was used in parallel with a more elaborate biological system, trout hepatocyte aggregate cultures, to examine the estrogenic potency of a wide spectrum of chemicals commonly found in the environment. In hepatocyte cultures, the vitellogenin gene whose expression is principally dependent upon estradiol was used as a biomarker. Moreover, competitive binding assays were performed to determine direct interaction between rtER and xenobiotics. In our study, 50% of the 49 chemical compounds tested exhibited estrogenic activity in the two bioassays: the herbicide diclofop-methyl; the fungicides biphenyl, dodemorph, and triadimefon; the insecticides lindane, methyl parathion, chlordecone, dieldrin, and endosulfan; polychlorinated biphenyl mixtures; the plasticizers or detergents alkylphenols and phthalates; and phytoestrogens. To investigate further biphenyl estrogenic activity, its principal metabolites were also tested in both bioassays. Among these estrogenic compounds, 70% were able to activate rtER in yeast and hepatocytes with variable induction levels according to the system. Nevertheless, 30% of these estrogenic compounds exhibited estrogenic activity in only one of the bioassays, suggesting the implication of metabolites or different pathways in the activation of gene transcription. This paper shows that it is important to combine in vivo bioassays with in vitro approaches to elucidate the mechanism of xenoestrogen actions.

 

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