Severe malformations of eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) fry are induced by maternal estrogenic exposure during early embryogenesis

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Pregnant eelpout were exposed via the water to known endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) to clarify if EDCs could be causing the increased eelpout fry malformation frequencies observed in coastal areas receiving high anthropogenic input. The presence of a teratogenic window for estrogen-induced malformations was also investigated by starting the exposure at different times during eelpout pregnancy.

Both 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) (17.8 ng/L) and pyrene (0.5 μg/L) significantly increased fry malformation frequency whereas 4-t-octylphenol (4-t-OP) up to 14.3 μg/L did not. Vitellogenin was significantly induced by EE2 (5.7 and 17.8 ng/L) but not by 4-t-OP and pyrene. A critical period for estrogen-induced fry malformations was identified and closed between 14 and 22 days post fertilization (dpf). Exposure to 17β-estradiol (E2) between 0 and 14 dpf caused severe malformations and severity increased the closer exposure start was to fertilization, whereas malformations were absent by exposure starting later than 14 dpf. Data on ovarian fluid volume and larval length supported the suggested teratogenic window. Larval mortality also increased when exposure started right after fertilization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue numberFebruary
Pages (from-to)80-87
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Estrogens
  • Endocrine disrupter
  • Malformation

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