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Challenge with 17[alpha]-ethinylestradiol (EE2) during early development persistently impairs growth, differentiation, and local expression of IGF-I and IGF-II in immune organs of tilapia

Shved N., Berishvili G., Haüsermann E., D'Cotta H., Baroiller J.F., Eppler E.. 2009. Fish and Shellfish Immunology, 26 (3) : p. 524-530.

DOI: 10.1016/j.fsi.2009.02.003

The enormous expansion of world-wide aquaculture has led to increasing interest in the regulation of fish immune system. Estrogen has recently been shown to inhibit the endocrine (liver-derived) and autocrine/paracrine local insulin-like growth factor-I system in fish. In order to address the potential actions of estrogen on the IGF system in immune organs, tilapia were fed with 17a-ethinylestradiol (EE2)-enriched food from 10 to 40 days post fertilization (DPF) to induce functional feminization, an approach commonly used in aquaculture. EE2-treated and control fish were sampled at 75 and 165 DPF. The expression levels of ER-a, IGF-I, IGF-II and growth hormone receptor (GH-R) mRNA in spleen and head kidney were determined by real-time PCR and the expressing sites of IGF-I mRNA identified by in situ hybridisation. Ratios of spleen length and weight to body length and weight were determined. At 165 DPF, the length (4.9% vs. 7.6%) and weight (0.084% vs. 0.132%) ratios were significantly lowered in EE2-treated fish and number and size of the melanomacrophage centres were considerably reduced. At 75 DPF, both in spleen and head kidney of EE2-treated fish the expression levels of IGF-I and IGF-II mRNA were markedly diminished. The suppression was more pronounced for IGF-I (spleen: _12.071-fold; head kidney: _8.413-fold) than for IGF-II (spleen: _4.102-fold; head kidney: _1.342-fold). In agreement, clearly fewer leucocytes and macrophages in head kidney and spleen of EE2-treated fish contained IGF-I mRNA as shown by in situ hybridisation. ER-a mRNA expression in spleen was increased at 75 DPF but unchanged in head kidney. GH-R gene expression showed a mild upregulation at 165 DPF in both tissues. Thus, exposure to EE2 during early development affected distinctly the IGF system in tilapia immune organs. It led to lasting impairment of spleen growth and differentiation that can be attributed to an interaction of EE2 with IGF-I and, less pronouncedly, IGF-II. Especially, the impairment of spleen and melanomacrophage centres might interfere with the antigen presentation capacity of the immune system and, thus, alter susceptibility to infection.

Mots-clés : oreochromis niloticus

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