Biomphalaria alexandrina: a model organism for assessing the endocrine disrupting effect of 17β-estradiol

  • Hanaa M. Abu El Einin
  • Rasha E. Ali
  • Rasha M. Gad El-Karim
  • Alaa A. Youssef
  • Hoda Abdel-Hamid
  • Mohamed R. HabibEmail author
Research Article


A wide range of endocrine disruptor compounds are routinely discharged to the ecosystem. Water contaminated with these compounds has a potential effect on the reproductive physiology of aquatic organisms as well as humans. In the present study, we tested the effect of the steroid estrogen, 17β-estradiol, on Biomphalaria alexandrina, a snail species that is widely distributed in Egypt and that acts as an intermediate host for the human blood fluke, Schistosoma mansoni. The effects of exposure to 0.3 mg/L and 1 mg/L 17β-estradiol on fecundity (MX) and reproductive rate (R0) of B. alexandrina were recorded. In addition, levels of steroid sex hormones and antioxidants in the hemolymph and ovotestis (OT) of exposed snails were measured. Histopathological changes in the OT of B. alexandrina were also investigated. Exposure to 0.3 mg/L and 1 mg/L 17β-estradiol caused a significant increase in the number of egg masses per snail after 3 weeks and 1 week of exposure for the two tested concentrations compared with unexposed controls. An increase in the levels of progesterone hormone was recorded in the hemolymph of exposed snails in comparison with unexposed controls. Additionally, levels of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione (GSH) were increased in the hemolymph and OT tissues of snails after 2 and 4 weeks of exposure. Histopathological sections in the OT revealed an increase in the oocyte and a decrease in the sperm densities after 2 weeks and this effect was restored to normal conditions after 4 weeks of exposure to both tested concentrations. The current results indicate that B. alexandrina is sensitive to 17β-estradiol and can therefore be used as bioindicator and model organism for the assessment of water pollution with endocrine disruptor compounds.


Biomphalaria alexandrina Animal model 17β-estradiol Steroids Endocrine disruptors Reproduction 


Funding information

This work received funding from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS, USA) U.S.-Egypt Science and Technology (S&T) Joint Fund 2000007152 and Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF, Egypt, USC17–188).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study followed the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals. In addition, it did not contain any human participants or subjects.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Malacology LaboratoryTheodor Bilharz Research InstituteGizaEgypt

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