Utility of a juvenile fathead minnow screening assay for detecting (anti-)estrogenic substances



The European Chemical Industry's aquatic research program for endocrine disrupters includes the development of an in vivo juvenile fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) screening assay.Working within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD, Paris, France) tiered approach to endocrine disrupter evaluation in fish, the juvenile fish screening protocol was adapted from the OECD test guideline 204. Six chemicals, with different (anti-)estrogenic potencies, were used to develop the in vivo juvenile fish screening protocol: diethylstilbestrol, 17α-ethynylestradiol, genistein, methoxychlor, 4-tert-pentylphenol, and ZM189,154 (a novel pharmaceutical antiestrogen). Mixed-sex juvenile fathead minnows were exposed to individual chemicals (with chemical analyzes) and sampled after 4, 7, 14, and 21 d of exposure. Wet weight, total length, condition factor, and whole-body homogenate concentrations of vitellogenin (VTG) were determined. Estrogens and antiestrogens were detected in this screen by virtue of the VTG response (an elevation or suppression, respectively) after 14 d. The study showed that the use of VTG concentrations in mixed-sex juvenile fish provides a sensitive and robust assay for the detection of both estrogenic and antiestrogenic chemicals, with widely divergent potencies.