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Profiles of environmental and endogenous estrogens in the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 21:36 authored by Mika PeckMika Peck, P Labadie, C Minier, E M Hill
Contamination of freshwater environments by estrogenic compounds has led to concern over potential impacts on invertebrate species. The uptake of the environmental estrogen 17ß-estradiol (E2) by the freshwater bivalve Dreissena polymorpha and the nature of estrogenic substances in tissues of D. polymorpha mussels collected from four freshwater sites were investigated. Exposure of mussels to [14C]-E2 (7.5 ng l-1, 13 days) revealed that the estrogen bioconcentrated 840 ± 58 (males) and 580 ± 77 (females) fold (mean ± 95% confidence limits) and was metabolised in tissues to a persistent lipophilic ester. Estrogenic activity, measured using a recombinant human estrogen receptor transcription screen (YES), was detected in tissue extracts of all mussels sampled from freshwater sites. At two reference sites the estrogenic activities of mussel tissues were <1 ng E2 equivalents g-1 wet weight tissue (ng EEQ g-1 ww) which increased to 7.4¿45.7 ng EEQ g-1 ww for both free and esterified estrogens extracted from hydrolysed tissue extracts. In mussels collected from two contaminated river sites, estrogenic activity was 0.2¿6.7 ng EEQ g-1 ww (free estrogens) and 25.6¿316.2 ng EEQ g-1 ww for total estrogens. Fractionation of the tissue extracts revealed that E2 (as the ester) was the predominant estrogen detected in both sexes of D. polymorpha, however, the xenoestrogen nonylphenol (NP) was also detected in mussels sampled from contaminated rivers. The detection of endogenous esterified E2 and the potential for accumulation of exogenous E2 and NP in D. polymorpha tissues suggests that this bivalve could be susceptible to exposure to estrogenic contaminants in the aquatic environment.


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  • Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications


First method to screen environmental samples of freshwater mussels and to demonstrate that they can bioaccumulate endocrine disrupting compounds. Suggests that mussels may be useful monitoring tool of exposure to estrogens in the environment. MP designed the analysis and carried out fieldwork and laboratory work and wrote paper with EH.

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