Effects of phthalate on reproduction in male broodfish

A. Hatef, S.M.H. Alavi, S. Milla, Ian Butts, O. Carnevali, P. Fontaine, O. Linhart

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is the most commonly used plasticizer in PVC formulation for a wide variety of applications including medical devices, construction products, clothing and car products. DEHP is also used in non-polymer materials such as lacquers and paints, adhesives and printing inks and cosmetics. Public concerns on phthalates distributions in the environment have been increasing since they can cause liver cancer, structural abnormalities and alternations in male reproductive system. In fish, although there are a few studies that show alternations in testicular steroidogenesis, but information about its effects on sperm quality is rare. Moreover, the molecular mechanisms of DEHP on testicular functions leading to reduction of sperm quality are still unknown.

In the present study, alternations of reproductive function in mature male goldfish were studied following 1 month exposure to 1, 10 and 100 DEHP. Two groups of males were exposed to acetone (solvant control) and to 17-estradiol (E2, 5 (estrogenic positive control). Modulations of androgen and estrogen mediating genes as well as vitellogenin mRNA expression were investiagted in the samples of brain, liver and testis to study their transcriptomic response to DEHP using a quantitative real-time PCR. Samples of blood plasma were collected to investigate alternations in sex steroid levels using ELISA. Sperm quality including sperm volume, motility and velocity were evaluated to understand whether alternations in testicular functions lead to reduction in sperm quality.

E2 level was unchanged in DEHP-treated group compared to the solvant control, but it was significantly increased in E2-treated group. 11-ketotestosterone level was significantly decreased in either DEHP-treated groups or E2-treated group. No sperm was produced in E2-treated group. Sperm volume was significantly lower in all DEHP-treated groups compared to that of solvant control. Sperm motility and velocity evaluated at 15 s post-sperm activation was significantly decreased at 100 and 10 DEHP, respectively. Transcriptomics response of testis showed significant alternations in AR (decreased in E2-treated group), StAR (decreased in E2-treated group and DEHP-treated group at 1 ERa (increased in E2-treated group and DEHP-treated group at 1 and increased at 10 and 100 and CYP19a (increased in E2-treated group). In brain, significant increase of ERa and CYP19a mRNA expression were observed in E2-treated group, while they were unchanged in DEHP-treated groups. In liver, expression of Vtg and CYP19a mRNA were only increased in E2-treated group.

In conclusion, the present study suggest anti-androgenic DEHP mode of on reproductive function in male broodfish that leads to decrease of sperm quality. The mechanism of action is dose-dependent via alternations in sex stroidogenesis mediating genes
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventAQUA 2012: Global Aquaculture securing our future: Annual meeting of European Aquaculture Society - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 1 Sept 20125 Sept 2012


ConferenceAQUA 2012: Global Aquaculture securing our future
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


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