Channel Catfish Estrogenicity and Sewer Overflows; Implications for Xenoestrogen Exposure
Effluent from wastewater-treatment plants contains compounds that possess estrogenic activity. The southwestern Pennsylvania area has over 400 sewer overflows (SOs) that release untreated sewage. We sought to determine if the estrogenicity index (EI) of channel catfish from dense areas of SOs differed from catfish that are less impacted by SOs, using MCF-7 and BT-20 cell cultures. The MCF-7 human breast cancer line is estrogen receptor (ER) positive, while the BT-20 line is ER negative. The EI is based on the ratio of MCF-7 proliferation from application of fish extract to the response achieved from physiological levels of estradiol. Catfish caught near dense concentrations of SOs had significantly higher MCF-7 EIs than catfish from areas of less dense SOs, (p=0.02). The ER negative BT-20 cell line exhibited no proliferative response. We hypothesize that fish caught in concentrated areas of SOs have bioaccumulated more xenoestrogens than fish caught in less SO impacted areas. River water from SO contaminated areas is the primary source of drinking water for Allegheny County residents, potentially exposing large population groups to xenoestrogens. Our data suggest that evaluation of the estrogenicity of fish should be incorporated into risk assessment paradigms. Estrogen-screen evaluation of channel catfish is proposed as one model for further development.
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