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Title: A study of the anti-androgenic effects of the phthalate ester, din-butyl phthalate, on two freshwater fish species, the fathead minnow and the three-spined stickleback
Author: Aoki, Katherine A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 8494
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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For the past few years there has been increasing concern surrounding a group of chemicals known as phthalate esters. In mammals, phthalates are known antiandrogens, interfering with the production or activity of testosterone. Phthalates are ubiquitous in the aquatic environment. With recent findings suggesting that antiandrogens may be responsible for much of the endocrine disruption found in wild fish populations, the study of phthalate esters has become integral to determining whether or not these anti-androgenic chemicals are of concern. I investigated whether di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) was able to cause antiandrogenic endocrine disruption in fish under controlled laboratory conditions. Three experiments were undertaken. In the first study, two generations of fathead minnows were exposed to nominal concentrations of 6 to 100 μg/L for 21 and 150 days, respectively. The second experiment examined the effects of early life-stage exposure to DBP (50, 100 and 200 μg DBP/L) on three-spined sticklebacks. The final experiment examined the effects of DBP on adult male three-spined sticklebacks in a 21-day nesting study (15 and 35 μg DBP/L). DBP had no effect on the fecundity, survival, growth, sex ratio, or gonadal histology of the exposed fish in any of the experiments. Further, it failed to alter the expression of two steroidogenic genes in adult male sticklebacks. In contrast, DBP was often found to significantly alter plasma androgen concentrations in both species, and spiggin concentrations in the three-spined stickleback, most notably causing significantly reduced spiggin concentrations in the adult males exposed to DBP. Ultimately, DBP-exposure did not disrupt the ability of the fish to reproduce successfully, and did not appear to alter reproductive behaviours or the expression of secondary sexual characteristics. In conclusion, while DBP did appear to have some capacity for endocrine disruption in fish, it was unable to interfere with the ability of the fish to develop normally and reproduce successfully. Thus, environmentallyrelevant concentrations of phthalate esters are likely not of particular concern to fish populations.
Supervisor: Sumpter, J. ; Harris, C. A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Phthalates esters ; Stickleback ; Anti-androgens ; Endocrine disruption