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Urban fish masculinized by hormone-mimicking chemicals

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Posted September 27, 2013
It’s a man’s world for fish in a San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Silverside fish collected from an urban beach in Suisun Marsh were more masculinized, but with smaller and less healthy gonads, than were neighboring silversides swimming near a cattle ranch in the marsh, according to a new study led by the University of California, Davis.
Urban fish masculinized by hormone-mimicking chemicals
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are known to cause physiological and behavioral abnormalities in fish. Credit: Susanne M. Brander

The study, published Sept. 25 in the journal PLOS ONE, measured the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals, which mimic hormones, on Mississippi silversides (Menidia audens) at the two beaches.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals are known to cause physiological and behavioral abnormalities in fish. They come from a variety of sources, such as agricultural, urban and residential run-off. They’re also found in wastewater effluent, which includes pharmaceuticals such as birth control, hormone replacement therapy and some anti-inflammatory medications known to contain endocrine disruptors.

“The DNA sequence for a hormone receptor in a fish isn’t that different from the DNA sequence for a hormone receptor in a human,” said lead author Susanne Brander, who was a doctoral student at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory when the study was conducted. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. “Exposure pathways are different, of course, but what we see happening with fish is indicative of potential issues that could cause problems with human health. We’re not swimming around in a soup of hormones and pesticides, but we’re exposed to those things through food or in the air.”

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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