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Metabolic and Reproductive Effects of Relatively Low Concentrations of Beclomethasone Dipropionate, a Synthetic Glucocorticoid, on Fathead Minnows

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journal contribution
posted on 20.08.2013, 00:00 by Subramaniam Kugathas, Tamsin J. Runnalls, John P. Sumpter
Pharmaceuticals present in the aquatic environment could adversely affect aquatic organisms. Synthetic glucocorticoids (GC) are used in large quantities as anti-inflammatory drugs and have been reported to be present in river water. In order to assess the impact of environmental concentrations of GCs, an in vivo experiment was conducted with adult fathead minnows. Fish were exposed to 0.1 μg/L, 1 μg/L, or 10 μg/L beclomethasone dipropionate (BCMD) via a flow-through system over a period of 21 days. Similar duplicate tanks served as control, with no chemical added. There was a concentration-related increase in plasma glucose concentration and a decrease in blood lymphocyte count. Induction of male secondary sexual characters and a decreasing trend in plasma vitellogenin (Vtg) concentrations in female fish were observed with increasing exposure concentration of BCMD. Expression profiles of selected genes (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase - PEPCK, glucocorticoid receptor - GR, and Vtg) in liver also demonstrated concentration-related effects at all three tested concentrations. The results suggest that GCs could cause effects in lower micrograms per liter concentrations that could be environmentally relevant for total GCs present in the environment. Therefore, studies to determine the environmental concentrations of GCs and no effect concentrations are needed to assess if GCs pose a risk to the aquatic environment.