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Effects of 4-nonylphenol on the endocrine system of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christina Lye, Emeritus Professor Matt Bentley


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There is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that many anthropogenic chemicals, most notably xeno-estrogens, are able to disrupt the endocrine system of vertebrates. There have been few comparable studies on the effects of exposure to these chemicals that may serve as biomarkers of endocrine disruption in aquatic invertebrate species. In addition, the evidence available is complex, conflicting, and far from conclusive. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of the xeno-estrogen 4-nonylphenol (4-NP, nominal concentrations 10-100 μg L-1) on the regulation and functioning of the endocrine system of the shore crab Carcinus maenas. It also set out to establish whether 4-NP are causing the effects (i.e., changes of exoskeletons including secondary sexual characteristics, pheromonally mediated behavior and ecdysone levels, and the presence of vt in the male hepatopancreas) found recently in wild shore crabs (Lye et al., 2005). The study utilizes morphological (e.g., gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices) and hormonal (ecdysteroid moulting hormone levels and the induction of female specific proteins, vitelline) biomarkers using radioimmunoassay and an indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay applied to the soluble protein fraction of adult male hepatopancreatic homogenates. Exposure of C. maenas to an effective concentration as low as 1.5 μg L-1 4-NP resulted in a reduced testis weight, increased liver weight, and altered levels of ecdysone equivalents compared to controls. Induction of vitellin-like proteins was absent in all samples tested. The ecological implications and the possible mechanisms for the action of 4-NP on the response of the shore crab to xeno-estrogen exposure are discussed. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lye CM, Bentley MG, Galloway T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Toxicology

Year: 2008

Volume: 23

Issue: 3

Pages: 309-318

ISSN (print): 1520-4081

ISSN (electronic): 1522-7278

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons


DOI: 10.1002/tox.20344

PubMed id: 18214899


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