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EMSG55-CEFAS: Critical evaluation of individual and combined natural and synthetic endocrine active compounds in fish: an in vitro & in vivo approach

Principal Investigator

Prof. Tom Hutchinson
Barrack Road, Weymouth
Dorset DT4 8UB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1305 206600
Fax: +44 1305 206601


Prof. Thomas Backhaus, University of Gothenburg, SE


The overall goal of this project is to characterize the potential in vitro and in vivo activities of plant-derived endocrine active compounds (EACs) versus synthetic substances and to evaluate potential combinatory effects of relevance to fish reproductive health.

In particular, the objectives of this study are:

(1) to characterize the endocrine activity of leaf litter from upland catchments (eg oak and beech leaf litter) and lowland catchments (eg reed and willow leaf litter) using a battery of (anti)estrogenic, (anti)androgenic and (anti)gestagenic in vitro screens (YAS,YES and YPS assays, respectively);

(2) assess the leaf extracts with greatest in vitro potency for their in vivo effects in a laboratory species (zebrafish) and a widely distributed wildlife species (the three-spined stickleback);

(3) deploy the YAS,YES and YPS in vitro assays to quantify the combination effects of the most potent leaf extracts with an environmentally relevant synthetic EAC (examples for consideration include bisphenol A, fenitrothion, linuron or vinclozolin);

(4) investigate in vivo mixture effects in fish of the most potent leaf extract with selected environmentally relevant synthetic EACs (the 21d stickleback spiggin and vitellogenin test (adapting OECD TG 230) has key scientific and ethical strengths for this type of work, while the OECD TG 229 zebrafish reproduction test extended to assess embryo-larval development will also be used);

(5) use state-of-the-art mixture toxicology modelling tools to quantify the contribution of synthetic EACs in relation to, and in combination with, natural EACs factors at environmentally relevant concentrations for the aquatic environment.

As a UK government research organisation, Cefas has extensive experimental resources ideally suited to this work, while the University of Gothenburg is a world-leader in evaluating mixture toxicology and providing advice to policy makers.

Related Publications

Research project summary:

Evaluating endocrine activity in leaf litter using in vitro screens for androgenic, oestrogenic and progestogenic activity by Brian J.V., Beresford N., Smith A., White S., Bean T., Katsiadaki I., Sebir M. and Hutchinson T.H


EMSG55: Evaluating Plant Leaf Extracts for Endocrine Activity & Reproductive Toxicity in Fish by Brian J.V., Beresford N., Smith A., White S., Bean T. , Katsiadaki I., Sebire M and Hutchinson T.H., presented at the 14th Cefic-LRI Annual Workshop 2012

Timeline: January 2012 > January 2014

LRI funding: €300.000


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