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F Petit, P Le Goff, JP Cravedi, Y Valotaire, and F Pakdel

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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P. Le Goff, C. Weil, Y. Valotaire, J. F. Gonnard, and P. Prunet


To study the control of prolactin secretion in fish, an in-vitro technique using a monolayer cell culture system of rainbow trout pituitary glands was developed. Such secretion was characterized by measurement of both prolactin release and prolactin mRNA content using a trout prolactin cDNA as a probe. This cell culture technique, already used to study the regulation of gonadotrophin secretion in rainbow trout, was further validated by measuring total DNA and protein content. Both parameters appeared to be stable after 2 days of culture. Studying the effect of somatostatin (SRIF) on prolactin cells indicated that a maximal inhibitory effect (62%) was observed after 24 h of treatment. Significant inhibition of prolactin release was obtained for SRIF doses ranging from 50 nm to 1 μm. However, in the same experiment, SRIF was much more potent as an inhibitor of growth hormone release. Short-term (<12h) incubation with SRIF did not induce a significant change in prolactin release, whereas growth hormone release was reduced at as early as 1 h after SRIF exposure. SRIF did not have a significant effect on total prolactin content or prolactin mRNA levels, suggesting the absence of an effect on prolactin synthesis. No increase in the magnitude of the inhibitory effect of SRIF was observed when using pituitary cells from immature, mature male or mature female trout. When comparing effects on primary cultures containing cells from the whole pituitary with a prolactin cell-enriched population, SRIF appeared to have the same inhibitory effect on prolactin release, supporting a direct action of SRIF on prolactin cells. These results provide further support for SRIF being a prolactin-inhibiting factor in rainbow trout and acting as a modulator of a dominant stimulatory control of prolactin release.