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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evidence of coprostanol estrogenicity to the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata.

Coprostanol (5 beta (H)-cholestan-3 beta ol) is a reduced metabolite of cholesterol produced by micro-organisms found in the intestinal tract of mammals. This substance abounds in urban effluents and is accumulated by organisms living in the vicinity of municipal effluent outfalls. In an earlier study, freshwater mussels exposed to contaminated river water for 62 days accumulated large quantities of coprostanol (Cop) in their soft tissues (16 micrograms/g dry wt.). Moreover, these mussels were found to have elevated levels of vitellin in their hemolymphs, suggesting estrogenic effects. Although municipal wastewaters are known to contain other estrogenic compounds capable of inducing Vn synthesis in mussels, the estrogenic potential of coprostanol was singled out for examination. To this end, mussels were first injected with concentrations of coprostanol via the abductor muscle route, and allowed to stand in aerated water for 72 h at 15 degrees C. The levels of Vn in mussel hemolymph were assayed using the organic alkali-labile phosphate method. A competitive estradiol-binding assay was then devised to measure the ability of coprostanol to compete in the binding of fluorescein-labeled estradiol-albumin to cytosolic proteins. Coprostanol partially reversed the binding of labeled estradiol-albumin to cytosolic proteins with an EC50 of 1 mM. In addition, injections of coprostanol and estradiol-17 beta led to increased levels of vitellins in the hemolymph of treated mussels. Moreover, incubation of cop in gonad homogenate extracts in the presence of NADPH led to the formation of two compounds, as determined by high-performance thin-layer chromatography. One of these compounds appears to be the C17 oxidation product of coprostanol, whose polarity is similar to that of estradiol. The results present evidence that coprostanol is estrogenic to freshwater mussels.[1]


  1. Evidence of coprostanol estrogenicity to the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata. Gagné, F., Blaise, C., Lachance, B., Sunahara, G.I., Sabik, H. Environ. Pollut. (2001) [Pubmed]
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