24 Apr 2012:
‘Glowing’ Fish Provides Insights
Into Effects of Endocrine Disruptors
UK researchers say they have genetically engineered a zebrafish to produce a fluorescent green glow
under a special microscope in response to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, a technique that could
University of Exeter
A microscopic view of the glowing zebrafish
provide new insights into how these chemicals penetrate and impact systems within the human body. After inserting genetic markers designed to produce a fluorescent glow within areas affected by the chemicals, the scientists from the University of Exeter exposed young fish to different levels of known endocrine disruptors — including bisphenol A, or BPA, a synthetic chemical found in thousands of everyday products, and ethinyloestradiol, a chemical found in contraceptive pills. According to their findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives
, the researchers were able to determine in real-time how different parts of the fish’s anatomy — including the liver, testes, ovaries, and brain — were lit up by the endocrine-disrupting chemicals. “We do see in this fish that the heart glows particularly in response to bisphenol A,” Charles Tyler, lead author of the study, told National Geographic
. “So we can target the heart and try to look at the mechanics of what is happening.”
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