GnRH Protein Levels in Atrazine-Treated Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Department of Zoology, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH 43015

Atrazine is the most widely used agricultural herbicide in the United States and a known endocrine disruptor. In amphibians, it has been shown to cause gonadal malformations, feminization of males, behavioral changes, and immune suppression; however, its mechanism of action is unknown. We hypothesized that atrazine reduces the production of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) in the hypothalamus. Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) were exposed to atrazine, 10-8 M ß-estradiol-3-benzoate, or no treatment and were sacrificed at 6, 8, and 10 months of age. GnRH neurons were labeled using immunocytochemistry, and labeled neurons were then counted using confocal microscopy. Although no significant difference was found in the total number of GnRH neurons, ectopic GnRH expression was seen in some brains. A significant negative correlation was found between presence of ectopic GnRH and number of normal GnRH neurons. Atrazine-treated animals were more likely than control or estrogen treated animals to have ectopic GnRH expression. The data implicate a central site of action of atrazine.

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