Linking genomic responses of gonads with reproductive impairment in marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma) exposed chronically to the chemopreventive and antifouling agent, 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM)


3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) has been promoted as an effective chemopreventive and antifouling additive. However, the concurrent risks or side effects of DIM are not fully understood, especially on tissues responsive to estrogen. Therefore, this study employed marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma) as a test model to evaluate relative safety and explore mechanisms of toxic action of DIM on development and function of gonad after chronic (28 days) aqueous exposure to relatively low doses (0 μg/L or 8.5 μg/L). Integration of comprehensive toxicogenomic analysis at the transcriptome and proteome levels with apical endpoints, such as production of eggs and swimming performance of larvae, elucidated the molecular linkage in gonad from bottom up along the reproductive adverse outcome pathway. A series of sequential changes at the transcript and protein levels were linked to lesser fecundity and viability of larvae exposed to DIM. Anomalous production of vitellogenin (VTG) and eggshell proteins in testis confirmed the estrogenic potency of DIM. In the ovary, although storage of VTG was greater, lesser expressions of cathepsin enzymes blocked cleavage and incorporation of VTG into oocytes as yolk, which acted together with lower eggshell proteins to inhibit maturation of primary oocyte and thus contributed to impairment of fecundity. Overall, this study demonstrated that exposure to DIM impaired reproductive fitness. Diverse molecular initiating changes in gonads were linked to apical endpoints that could be used in assessment of risks posed by DIM on gametogenesis. In combination with chemical stability and potent endocrine disruption, the results of this study can inform decisions about the use of DIM either as chemopreventive or antifouling agent.