Disrupting effects of plasticizers in male gilthead sea bream


Image: Concept of DISRUPBREAM TNA project. Photo credits 1: Richard Whitcombe; 2: Xènia Pérez Sitjà


Bisphenol A (BPA) and di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) are two man-made chemicals that are ubiquitous in plastic items and detected in all environmental matrices due to their broad spectrum of applications. Both substances are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), having the ability to alter the endocrine system of living organisms, including farmed fish such as gilthead sea bream.

Gilthead sea bream is a sequential hermaphrodite that begins its life as male and becomes female when it is two or three years old. Consequently, the gilthead sea bream is an interesting model to study how chemicals may interfere with the hormonal system and sex reversal.

Changes in reproductive performance can also affect the quality of the progeny, which explains the interest in underlining and mitigating most of the effects of environmental stressors. In this context, the AQUAEXCEL2020 transnational access (TNA) project DISRUPBREAM was proposed by the Department of Life and Environment Sciences of Polytechnic University of Marche (Ancona, Italy) to address the impact of BPA and DiNP on the metabolism and reproduction of gilthead sea bream.

This TNA utilised the gilthead sea bream transcriptome and genome databases (nutrigroup-iats.org/seabreamdb) of the host infrastructure of Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal, (IATS-CSIC, Spain) for gene expression profiling of a set of candidate genes involved in lipid metabolism and reproduction.

Both EDCs were administered by diet to two-year-old male gilthead sea bream during the sex reversal stage for three weeks. Gene expression surveys were conducted to evaluate the impact of these plasticizers in fish gonads, liver and brain. The results provided evidence that DiNP and BPA alter the pathways involved in the regulation of appetite and hepatic lipid metabolism, driving an increased deposition of hepatic lipids [1].

Regarding reproduction, DiNP affected plasma levels of steroids, with a reduction of 11-ketosterone (11-KT) and increases of 17β-estradiol (E2). In addition, the predominant cell type in DiNP treated fish was immature spermatogonia. Expression of genes coding for different reproductive markers was up-regulated after the exposure to this plasticizer [2]. Fish treated with BPA showed a reduction of the sperm motility duration and velocity. BPA also elicited an alteration in the steroidogenesis reducing plasma 11-KT levels, whereas those of testosterone (T) and maturation-inducing steroid (17,20β-P) were increased. As for DiNP, key genes involved in the reproductive process were altered after chronic BPA exposure [3].

The results of the DISRUPBREAM TNA project provided complementary novel data for the PhD thesis of TNA applicant, Isabel Forner-Piquer. Her TNA work with the IATS-CSIC Nutrigenomics group resulted in three publications in high impact scientific journals. DISRUPBEAM overall was a great example of research collaboration through the AQUAEXCEL2020 TNA Programme.

You can also read more about the DISRUPBEAM project here: https://www.aquaexcel2020.eu/transnational-access/tna-projects


1. Forner-Piquer, I.; Mylonas, C.C.; Calduch-Giner, J.; Maradonna, F.; Gioacchini, G.; Allarà, M.; Piscitelli, F.; Di Marzo, V.; Pérez-Sánchez, J.; Carnevali, O. Endocrine disruptors in the diet of male Sparus aurata : Modulation of the endocannabinoid system at the hepatic and central level by Di-isononyl phthalate and Bisphenol A. Environ. Int. 2018, 119, 54–65.
2. Forner-Piquer, I.; Mylonas, C.C.; Fakriadis, I.; Papadaki, M.; Piscitelli, F.; Di Marzo, V.; Calduch-Giner, J.; Pérez-Sánchez, J.; Carnevali, O. Effects of diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) on the endocannabinoid and reproductive systems of male gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) during the spawning season. Arch. Toxicol. 2019, 93, 727-741.
3. Forner-Piquer, I.; Fakriadis, I.; Mylonas, C.C.; Piscitelli, F.; Di Marzo, V.; Maradonna, F.; Calduch-Giner, J.; Pérez-Sánchez, J.; Carnevali, O. Effects of Dietary Bisphenol A on the Reproductive Function of Gilthead Sea Bream (Sparus aurata) Testes. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 5003.


The AQUAEXCEL2020 TNA programme enables external teams to access project partners’ facilities via submission of research proposals, which are funded based on an independent evaluation. Access is offered to 39 research infrastructures of participating institutes, with experimental costs, travel and subsistence covered by AQUAEXCEL2020. Available facilities cover the entire range of production systems, environments, scales, fish species and fields of expertise. Access is available to EU and Associated States’ research teams, industry, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), based on the scientific excellence of proposals and relevance to the aquaculture sector. To find out more visit: https://www.aquaexcel2020.eu/transnational-access/tna-overview

Content created on: Wed, 20/05/2020 - 12:28. Last update: Wed, 20/05/2020 - 12:29.