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The in vivo estrogenic and in vitro anti-estrogenic activity of permethrin and bifenthrin

Authors

  • Susanne M. Brander,

    Corresponding author
    1. Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, California, USA
    2. Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.
    • Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, California, USA.
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  • Guochun He,

    1. Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA
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  • Kelly L. Smalling,

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Sacramento, California
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  • Michael S. Denison,

    1. Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA
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  • Gary N. Cherr

    1. Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, California, USA
    2. Departments of Environmental Toxicology and Nutrition, Davis, California, USA
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Abstract

Pyrethroids are highly toxic to fish at parts per billion or parts per trillion concentrations. Their intended mechanism is prolonged sodium channel opening, but recent studies reveal that pyrethroids such as permethrin and bifenthrin also have endocrine activity. Additionally, metabolites may have greater endocrine activity than parent compounds. The authors evaluated the in vivo concentration-dependent ability of bifenthrin and permethrin to induce choriogenin (an estrogen-responsive protein) in Menidia beryllina, a fish species known to reside in pyrethroid-contaminated aquatic habitats. The authors then compared the in vivo response with an in vitro assay—chemical activated luciferase gene expression (CALUX). Juvenile M. beryllina exposed to bifenthrin (1, 10, 100 ng/L), permethrin (0.1, 1, 10 µg/L), and ethinylestradiol (1, 10, 50 ng/L) had significantly higher ng/mL choriogenin (Chg) measured in whole body homogenate than controls. Though Chg expression in fish exposed to ethinylestradiol (EE2) exhibited a traditional sigmoidal concentration response, curves fit to Chg expressed in fish exposed to pyrethroids suggest a unimodal response, decreasing slightly as concentration increases. Whereas the in vivo response indicated that bifenthrin and permethrin or their metabolites act as estrogen agonists, the CALUX assay demonstrated estrogen antagonism by the pyrethroids. The results, supported by evidence from previous studies, suggest that bifenthrin and permethrin, or their metabolites, appear to act as estrogen receptor (ER) agonists in vivo, and that the unmetabolized pyrethroids, particularly bifenthrin, act as an ER antagonists in cultured mammalian cells. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 2848–2855. © 2012 SETAC

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