Effects of 17α‑ethinylestradiol on caudal fin regeneration in zebrafish larvae


• Effects of EE2 on the regenerative capacity of larval zebrafish were assessed.
• EE2 exposure inhibited fin regeneration and changed locomotor behavior.
• EE2 exposure down-regulated the transcriptions of regeneration-related genes.
• EE2 exposure changed the immune competence in the amputated fish.


The ability to restore tissue function and morphology after injury is a key advantage of many fish for a greater chance of survival. The tissue regeneration process is regulated by multiple pathways, and it can therefore be hypothesized that environmental contaminants targeting components of these signaling pathways, may disrupt the fish's capability to repair or regenerate. This could lead to higher mortality and eventually even to a decline in populations. In this study, the effects of 17α‑ethinylestradiol (EE2), a synthetic estrogen, were assessed on the regenerative capacity of larval zebrafish. Zebrafish aged 2 hour post fertilization (hpf) were exposed to 1, 10, or 100 ng/L EE2, and the caudal fins were amputated at 72 hpf. It was found that EE2 exposure significantly inhibited fin regeneration and changed locomotor behavior. The transcription levels for most of the genes involved in the signaling networks regulating the fin regeneration, such as axin2, fgfr1, bmp2b and igf2b, were down-regulated in the amputated fish in response to EE2 exposure, which was in contrast to their increased patterns in the vehicle-exposed control fish. Additionally, the mRNA levels of several immune-related genes, such as il-, il-6, il-10 and nf-κb2, were significantly decreased after EE2 exposure, accompanied by a lower density of neutrophils migrated into the wound site. In conclusion, the present study indicated for the first time that estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EEDCs) could inhibit the regenerative capacity of zebrafish, and this effect was speculated to be mediated through the alteration in regeneration-related signaling pathways and immune competence. This work expands our knowledge of the potential effects of EEDCs on injured aquatic organisms, and highlights the ecotoxicological significance of relationships between regenerative process and endocrine system. This study also implies the potential application of fin regeneration assay for assessing immunotoxicity in ecotoxicological risk assessment.


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