Investigation of the potential endocrine effect of nitrate in zebrafish Danio rerio and brown trout Salmo trutta

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Abstract

Nitrate has the potential to affect steroid production. Nitrate concentrations in streams in agricultural areas may exceed concentrations showing effects in laboratory studies. The effects of nitrate and/or nitrite on endocrine relevant endpoints were tested in zebrafish and brown trout. Zebrafish were exposed in two experiments to nitrate (8.8 to 89 mg NO3−/L) and nitrite (3.6 to 19 mg NO2−/L) during the period of sexual differentiation and sex ratios were determined. Vitellogenin concentrations were determined in the second experiment. The sex ratio was unaffected by the exposure to nitrate and nitrite. Vitellogenin concentrations were slightly elevated in males (but not females) in all of the groups exposed to nitrate. Juvenile brown trout were exposed to 5.7, 14, and 31 mg NO3−/L for 8 days and vitellogenin levels in liver were determined. Vitellogenin concentrations in the females were not affected by exposure, but in the males, there was an overall statistically significant effect of exposure to nitrate with the group exposed to 5.7 mg NO3−/L showing a trend of higher vitellogenin concentrations than the control group; levels in the males of the groups exposed to 14 and 31 mg NO3−/L were not statistically different from those of the control group. In conclusion, some marginal effect of nitrate in male fish on endocrine activity was observed but the present results for zebrafish, using environmentally relevant concentrations, do not define nitrate and nitrite as endocrine disrupting chemicals according to the generally accepted WHO/IPCS definition because no adverse effects (altered sex ratios) were demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology
Volume211
Pages (from-to)32-40
ISSN1532-0456
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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