A rapid screening test for endocrine disrupting chemicals using primary cell culture of the marine medaka

Anna C. K. TSE, Karen Y. T. LAU, Wei GE, Shiu Sun Rudolf WU

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10 Citations (Scopus)


While endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose a significant threat to wildlife worldwide, their diverse chemical structures present a major challenge to their detection, particularly since they are present at very low concentrations in the environment. We here report the development of an in vitro system for rapid screening of EDCs, using primary cell cultures (pituitary, ovarian follicular and testicular cells) of the marine medaka ( Oryzias melastigma). Pituitary, testis and ovary cell cultures were developed and challenged by environmentally relevant concentrations of three well known EDCs ( viz. estradiol, 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether, and 4-. n-nonylphenol) as well as hypoxia (which has been shown to be a potent endocrine disruptor). In general, the mRNA expression levels of gonadotropins, their receptors and steroidogenic enzymes exhibited dose response relationships to the four endocrine disruptors in different tissues. The sensitivity and responses were also comparable to in vivo responses of whole fish and in vitro responses of the H295R human adrenocortical cell line. Our results suggest that the use of marine medaka primary cultured cells can serve as a cost effective tool for rapid screening of EDCs in the marine environment, and at the same time, sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of EDCs by deciphering their specific target sites along the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis of vertebrates. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Early online date30 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2013


Endocrine Disruptors
endocrine-disrupting chemicals
Primary Cell Culture
cell culture
endocrine disruptor
dose-response relationship
Gonadotropin Receptors
marine environment
chemical structure
cultured cells


Tse, A. C. K., Lau, K. Y. T., Ge, W., & Wu, R. S. S. (2013). A rapid screening test for endocrine disrupting chemicals using primary cell culture of the marine medaka. Aquatic Toxicology, 144, 50-58. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.09.022


  • EDC
  • Rapid screening
  • In vitro assay
  • Primary cell culture