Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 35–47 | Cite as

Multiple piscine vitellogenins: biomarkers of fish exposure to estrogenic endocrine disruptors in aquatic environments

  • Naoshi HiramatsuEmail author
  • Takahiro Matsubara
  • Toshiaki Fujita
  • Craig V. Sullivan
  • Akihiko Hara
Research Article


Vitellogenin (Vg), a major estrogen-inducible yolk precursor protein, has become an important biomarker for assessing the estrogenic potency of chemicals and the exposure of animals to estrogenic contaminants present in aquatic environments. These contaminants, which can disrupt functioning of the vertebrate neuroendocrine system, are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In general, investigations of the significance of estrogenic EDCs have failed to keep pace with recent developments in our understanding of vitellogenesis in fishes. Recent gene cloning and immunobiochemical analyses have verified the general multiplicity of piscine Vg and led to exploration of the unique roles of yolk proteins derived from different forms of Vg in the processes of oogenesis and embryogenesis. The levels of circulating Vg proteins (or Vg gene transcripts) during oogenesis and their degree of induction by estrogens appear to vary among species and among different types of Vg within species. The kinetics of induction of distinct types of Vg by estrogens in fishes appears to depend on environmental factors (e.g., water temperature and photoperiod), life history stage, and the concentration and type of estrogenic compound. Consideration of these findings will contribute to development of Vg-based bioassays superior to those currently based on the outdated “single Vg” model.


Fathead Minnow White Perch Yolk Protein Chlordecone Oocyte Hydration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Mr. A. Haga for detection of Vg and Vg mRNA in cutthroat trout, and Ms. M. Inoue for assistance with purification and immunoassay of medaka Vgs. We also thank B.J. Reading and C.R. Couch for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by a grant-in-aid from the Special Coordination Funds for the Promoting Science and Technology of the Science and Technology Agency of the Japanese Government, and Scientific Research 21st Century COE Program Japan to A. Hara. This work also was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (NRICGP Animal Reproduction, 01-35203-11131 to C.V.S) and the National Sea Grant (SG) College Program (North Carolina SG, NA46ROG0087 to C.V.S.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naoshi Hiramatsu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takahiro Matsubara
    • 2
  • Toshiaki Fujita
    • 3
  • Craig V. Sullivan
    • 1
  • Akihiko Hara
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, College of Agriculture and Life SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Hokkaido National Fisheries Research Institute HokkaidoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Fisheries SciencesHokkaido University HokkaidoJapan

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