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17α-ethynylestradiol prevents the natural male-to-female sex change in gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata L.)

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Exposure to 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2, 5 μg/g food) impairs some reproductive events in the protandrous gilthead seabream and a short recovery period does not allow full recovery. In this study, spermiating seabream males in the second reproductive cycle (RC) were fed a diet containing 5 or 2.5 μg EE2/g food for 28 days and then a commercial diet without EE2 for the remaining RC. Individuals were sampled at the end of the EE2 treatment and then at the end of the RC and at the beginning of the third RC, 146 and 333 days after the cessation of treatment, respectively. Increased hepatic transcript levels of the gene coding for vitellogenin (vtg) and plasma levels of Vtg indicated both concentrations of EE2 caused endocrine disruption. Modifications in the histological organization of the testis, germ cell proliferation, plasma levels of the sex steroids and pituitary expression levels of the genes coding for the gonadotropin β-subunits, fshβ and lhβ were detected. The plasma levels of Vtg and most of the reproductive parameters were restored 146 days after treatments. However, although 50% of the control fish underwent sex reversal as expected at the third RC, male-to female sex change was prevented by both EE2 concentrations.




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