According to a press release published on September 8, 2014 new research suggests that fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be more susceptible to infectious disease. The researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, found that cells of the catfish immune system had cellular receptors for estrogen. Previous research has shown that estrogens modify the immune system responses in mammals and some ray-finned fishes. In this study, the researchers found different cells of the immune system to have different arrays of estrogen receptors. They may thus be instructed differently by estrogen. Luke Iwanowicz, biologist as USGS, noted that this means EDCs may make fish more prone to disease. Further, the findings provide baseline data for similar research with wild-caught fishes.

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USGS (September 8, 2014). “Technical announcement: Endocrine disruption may make fish more prone to disease.


Iwanowicz, LR et al. (2014). “Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) leukocytes express estrogen receptor isoforms ERα and ERβ2 and are functionally modulated by estrogens.” Fish & Shellfish Immunology 40, 1, 109-119.