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Estrogen linked to lowered immunity in fish
Date:6/3/2009

how estrogen could be affecting the immune system in these fish. The study showed that largemouth bass produced two different hepcidin proteins. Production of the first hepcidin protein was "turned down" by estrogen. Production of the second hepcidin protein by fish exposed to bacteria was blocked by estrogen. The fact that estrogen blocked production of hepcidins in fish exposed to bacteria gives more weight to the theory that estrogen or estrogen-mimicking chemicals could be making fish more susceptible to diseases, Robertson added.

Hepcidin could protect against bacterial infection in two ways. "First," said Robertson, "hepcidin could be an antimicrobial peptide that actually kills pathogens. Or it could be more complex. To live, a microbe must have iron, so when a microbe invades a person or animal, that microbe must obtain iron from its host. To 'fight' the microbe, a host can 'suck up iron' and store it in places inaccessible to the microbe. In mammals, hepcidin is a key player in how the host takes up and stores iron."

The study, Identification of centrarchid hepcidins and evidence that 17β-estradiol disrupts constitutive expression of hepcidin-1 and inducible expression of hepcidin-2 in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), was just published in the journal, Fish & Shellfish Immunology. The authors are USGS scientists Laura Robertson, Luke Iwanowicz and Jamie Marie Marranca.


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Contact: Laura Robertson
lrobertson@usgs.gov
304-724-4579
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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