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Endocrine Responses As Indicators Of Sublethal Toxic Stress In Fish From Polluted Environments

Alice Hontela, Joseph B. Rasmussen, Gaston Chevalier

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Abstract Development of new methods for detection of sublethal toxic effects of pollutants in aquatic organisms has become a focus of interest in ecotoxicology. The endocrine response to pollutants is an integral part of the homeostatic physiological processes activated in response to environmental stressors including pollutants. Changes in concentrations of hormones, particularly those regulating vital functions such as osmoregulation, energy metabolism, reproduction, or growth, may have potential as early warning indicators of toxic stress in fish. We review the recent literature in fish endocrine toxicology and illustrate the use of hormonal indicators in detection of acid stress in the brook trout. Salvelinus fontinalis, from lakes in the Canadian Shield, and of general toxic stress in the pike, Esox lucius, and the perch, Perca flavescens, from the St. Lawrence River system polluted by a mixture of chemicals.