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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 Exeter Glowing Zebrafish
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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