Vitellogenin detection and chick pathology are useful endpoints to evaluate endocrine-disrupting effects in avian one-generation reproduction study



To investigate additional endpoints for screening of endocrine disruptors in birds, effects of 17β-estradiol (E2) on one-generation reproduction in the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) were assessed. Pairs of the 10-week-old Japanese quail were fed a low-phytoestrogen diet containing E2 at 0 (control), 10, 100, and 1,000 ppm for six weeks. In the E2 100- and 1,000-ppm groups, the parental quail represented marked toxic changes including high mortality, decreased food consumption, decreased gonad weights, gross and histologic toxic changes in the reproductive and other organs, and inhibition of the reproduction. However, no adverse effects were observed in the parental quail from the E2 10-ppm group. In the parental males, serum vitellogenin (VTG) concentrations were increased significantly in the E2 10-ppm group, disclosing that serum VTG concentration is one of the highly sensitive endpoints for evaluating estrogenic endocrine activities. In the E2 10-ppm group, number of eggs laid, number of eggs with abnormalities, eggshell strength and thickness, fertility, early and late viabilities of embryos, normal hatchling rate, and clinical signs, mortality, viability, and body weight of chicks at 14 d of age were not affected. However, histopathology of the chicks in the E2 10-ppm group revealed meaningful morphological changes in the reproductive organs, such as cystic dilatation of seminiferous tubules, increased interstitial cells in the testis, and decreased theca cells in the ovary. The present study suggests that serum VTG concentration in the parental quail and histopathology of reproductive organs in the offspring are sensitive endpoints and are useful as additional endpoints in the avian one-generation reproduction test using the Japanese quail for evaluating estrogenic endocrine-disrupting effects.