Anchoring Ethinylestradiol Induced Gene Expression Changes with Testicular Morphology and Reproductive Function in the Medaka

Hilary D. Miller, Bryan W. Clark, David E. Hinton, Andrew Whitehead, Stan Martin, Wing Hin Kevin Patrick Kwok, Seth W. Kullman

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental estrogens are ubiquitous in the environment and can cause detrimental effects on male reproduction. In fish, a multitude of effects from environmental estrogens have been observed including altered courting behavior and fertility, sex reversal, and gonadal histopathology. However, few studies in fish assess the impacts of estrogenic exposure on a physiological endpoint, such as reproduction, as well as the associated morphologic response and underlying global gene expression changes. This study assessed the implications of a 14 day sub-chronic exposure of ethinylestradiol (EE2; 1.0 or 10.0 μg/L EE2) on male medaka fertility, testicular histology and testicular gene expression. The findings demonstrate that a 14 day exposure to EE2 induced impaired male reproductive capacity and time- and dose-dependent alterations in testicular morphology and gene expression. The average fertilization rate/day following the exposure for control, 1.0 and 10.0 μg/L EE2 was 91.3% (±4.4), 62.8% (±8.3) and 28.8% (±5.8), respectively. The testicular morphologic alterations included increased germ cell apoptosis, decreased germinal epithelium and thickening of the interstitium. These changes were highly associated with testicular gene expression changes using a medaka-specific microarray. A pathway analysis of the differentially expressed genes emphasized genes and pathways associated with apoptosis, cell cycle and proliferation, collagen production/extracellular matrix organization, hormone signaling, male reproduction and protein ubiquitination among others. These findings highlight the importance of anchoring global gonadal gene expression changes with morphology and ultimately with tissue/organ function.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52479
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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