Masculinization and reproductive effects in western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) after long-term exposure to androstenedione
Abstract Androstenedione (AED) is a naturally occurring steroid hormone. It is metabolized to potent androgens, which may induce androgenic effects in fish. However, little is known whether and how the androgens interfere with the fish gonadal development and reproduction. This study aimed at demonstrating the effects of long-term AED exposure on reproduction and development in mosquitofish ( Gambusia affinis ). The growth, development and several morphological endpoints, including the segment number and length of anal fin, histological changes of gonads and liver, were evaluated in mosquitofish during development from fertilized embryo to adulthood (180 days) after exposure of AED at environmentally relevant concentrations. We found that the growth (length, body weight and condition factor) of fish was negatively correlated with AED concentration in females, but not in males. The significant elongation of the ray and increment of segment numbers in the anal fin, were detected in all mosquitofish after exposure. Moreover, AED exposure (0.4gμ/L) caused damages in gonads and reduced the number of pregnant females. These findings indicate that AED has adverse effects on the growth and development of the western mosquitofish after long-term exposure (180d). Long-term exposure (180d) to AED, including environmentally relevant concentration (0.4μg/L and 4μg/L), induced masculinization in female mosquitofish under the experimental conditions. Highlights AED exposure adversely affects mosquitofish growth and reproductive development. Exposure to AED results in hypermasculinization of male mosquitofish and masculinization in female mosquitofish. AED may be the causative agents for masculinizing changes in female mosquitofish ( Gambusia holbrooki ) living in waters contaminated by pulp and paper mills.
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