a1 Laboratory of Ecotoxicology, University of Le Havre, BP 540, 76058 Le Havre, France
The tapeworm Ligula intestinalis commonly infests roach (Rutilus rutilus) and is responsible for the inhibition of gonad development. In order to better understand the effect of the plerocercoid on fish physiology, and to discriminate parasitization effects from those of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC), Cyp19b and Cyp19a aromatase expression was investigated by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in brain and gonads of ligulosed roach, caught from a reference site. Data were compared to reproductive and endocrine endpoints previously reported in a larger cohort study (including the sampled population of the present one), such as gonadosomatic index, Fulton index, gonadal histology, plasma sex steroid levels and brain aromatase activity. A decrease in Cyp19b expression in the brain of infected fish was demonstrated, in agreement with the reduction of aromatase activity previously described. In contrast, Cyp19a expression in the gonads appeared to be enhanced in ligulosed fish, in accordance with the presence of immature but differentiated sexual tissues. Together these results show that: (1) L. intestinalis infestation results in an alteration of aromatase expression which, in particular, may have profound effects on the fish brain; and (2) L. intestinalis infection must be considered as a major confounding factor in ecotoxicological studies using aromatase expression as an EDC biomarker. Moreover, the concordance between activity and expression – investigated for the first time in the same population – gives a functional relevance to the transcript aromatase dosage in the brain. Finally, quantitative PCR was confirmed as a sensitive approach, enabling aromatase status to be defined in the poorly developed gonads of ligulosed individuals.
(Accepted September 05 2010)
(Online publication November 10 2010)