Waterborne ethynylestradiol induces vitellogenin and alters metallothionein expression in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Estrogenic contaminants isolated from waters receiving sewage treatment plant effluents are known to induce the egg yolk precursor vitellogenin (VTG) in male fish. Levels of the metal binding protein metallothionein (MT) have also been shown to be affected by estrogens in fish. It has been postulated that MT declines in estrogen exposed fish to facilitate transfer of the essential metal Zn to cellular components required for VTG synthesis. To examine the changes in MT and VTG concentrations in fish exposed to an estrogen contaminant, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) were exposed to waterborne ethynylestradiol at 0, 4, 40 or 400 ng/l(-1) for 21 days. Blood and tissues were collected after 21 days of exposure to measure circulating levels of VTG as well as MT concentrations in liver and kidney. VTG increased in male and female fish from all three exposure groups compared to control fish. MT in liver significantly decreased in males and females compared to the controls, in the two highest exposures. MT in kidney was significantly higher in both sexes of fish exposed to the two highest concentrations of ethynylestradiol. These data are supportive of a relationship between estrogen exposure and the regulation of MT. Further studies to examine the specific links between estrogen exposure, VTG induction and regulation of essential metals like Zn are required.


  • Werner, Julieta
  • Wautier, Kerry
  • Evans, Robert E
  • Baron, Christopher L
  • Kidd, Karen
  • Palace, Vince

publication date

  • February 2003