Accumulation of ligands for aryl hydrocarbon and sex steroid receptors in fish exposed to treated effluent from a bleached sulfite/groundwood pulp and paper mill Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe accumulation of ligands for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and fish sex steroid receptors was investigated using two separate controlled fish exposures to final effluent from a bleached sulfite/groundwood mill in New Brunswick, Canada. In the first experiment, hepatic tissue extracts from exposed fish were fractionated according to lipophilicity. Fractions with different octanol‐water (Kow) partition coefficients were tested for the presence of bioavailable chemicals that function as ligands for the AhR in H4IIE cells, rainbow trout hepatic estrogen receptors (ER), goldfish testicular androgen receptors (AR), and goldfish sex steroid binding protein (SSBP). Fish accumulated ligands for each receptor after 4‐d exposure to effluent. Single fractions contained ligands for the AhR and the ER, while multiple fractions competed for the AR and SSBP. Fish also accumulated ligands for the AhR and SSBP from Saint John River dilution water, indicating upstream sources of bioactive substances. Semipermeable‐membrane devices deployed concurrently with fish accumulated ligands from effluent for all receptors except the ER. In the second experiment, accumulated ligands were evaluated after exposure of fish to effluent for two different durations and following a depuration period. Hepatic mixed function oxygenase activity and whole‐liver hormonal activity, measured as binding to SSBP, returned to background following 6 d depuration and were reduced but still significant after 12‐d exposure to effluent. Whole‐liver extract affinities for the AR were maintained after extended exposure and depuration, indicating the potential for AR ligands to bioaccumulate. The accumulation of AhR ligands and ligands for sex steroid receptors provides a mechanistic linkage to effects on growth, development, and performance of fish exposed to effluent from this and other mills.


  • Hewitt, L Mark
  • Pryce, Andrea C
  • Parrott, Joanne L
  • Marlatt, Vicki
  • Wood, Craig
  • Oakes, Kenneth
  • Van Der Kraak, Glen

publication date

  • December 2003

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