Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 522–528 | Cite as

Estrogenic effects of dissolved organic matter and its impact on the activity of 17β-estradiol

  • Lei Chen
  • Chaofeng Shen
  • Xianjin Tang
  • Chen Chen
  • Yingxu Chen
Research Article


Background and purpose

The ubiquitous dissolved organic matter (DOM) is actually not inert as we always think, and the hormone-like effects of DOM have been reported. The objective of this study was to investigate the estrogenic effects of DOM and its impact on the activity of the natural estrogen 17β-estradiol (E2).

Materials and methods

DOM of three different sources, HA sodium salt, Suwannee River natural organic matter (NOM), and Nordic Reservoir NOM, were used. The estrogenic activity was detected by using the yeast estrogen screen (YES) assay. Estrogenic effects of DOM without and after solar irradiation were tested. Influences on the action of E2 by DOM were also investigated.


No direct estrogenic effects of the DOM used were observed in the YES assay. However, the estrogenic activities after 24 h of irradiation increased to 0.0288, 0.0178, and 0.0195 μM of E2 equivalents for HA sodium salt, Suwannee River NOM, and Nordic Reservoir NOM, respectively. After incubation of DOM, the estrogenic activity of E2 was increased by low concentrations (8.33 and 83.3 μM) of DOM while decreased by higher concentrations (8.33 × 102 and 8.33 × 103 μM) of DOM.


Though direct estrogenic effects of DOM were not observed, increase in the estrogenic activity of DOM after irradiation was significant. DOM shows amphoteric influence on the natural estrogen E2, which depends on the concentration of DOM used. Because of its ubiquity, DOM may be of great ecological significance, playing an important role in regulating the reproduction of aquatic organisms.


Hormone-like effects Receptor-α pathway Solar irradiation Bioavailability 



This work was supported by the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT0536) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (20607019 and 40901153). We thank Naveedullah for language checking.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chaofeng Shen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Xianjin Tang
    • 1
  • Chen Chen
    • 1
  • Yingxu Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Water Pollution Control and Environmental SafetyHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Non-point Source Pollution Control, Ministry of AgricultureZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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