The Department of Biomedicine

CCBIO seminar: Anders Goksøyr

From feminized fish to obese mice: On endocrine and metabolic disruption in wildlife (and the lab)

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Anders Goksøyr
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen

Endocrine disrupting chemicals as causes of reproductive disturbances in wildlife came into focus after discoveries of feminized fish and alligators in the 1990s. Male fish from several UK and European rivers were shown to contain ovotestes or elevated levels of egg yolk proteins, normally only produced by females, in their plasma. Estrogens in contraceptive pills, as well as other xenoestrogens, were later shown to be involved. In Florida, alligators inhabiting the pesticide-contaminated lake Apopka had reduced penile lengths or abnormal ovarian morphology, resulting in declined juvenile recruitment. Another example of reproductive disturbances was the observed masculinization of female snails by tributyltin (TBT) used in antifoulants, causing a blockage of the oviduct called imposex. A ban on TBT has resulted in a clear reduction in imposex occurrence in the marine environment. Some compounds were later shown to cause dysregulation of lipid metabolism, leading to adipogenesis and obesity in experimental studies. These compounds were called obesogens, and have been implicated as contributors to the obesity epidemic in the western world. Studies over the last few decades have provided insights into the mechanisms behind many of these observations, and have identified several members of the nuclear receptor superfamily of transcription factors as primary targets for endocrine and metabolic disrupting compounds.

Chairperson: Lars A. Akslen, CCBIO