National Research Council of Canada. NRC Biotechnology Research Institute
Coprostanol (5β(H)-cholestan-3βol) is a reduced metabolite of cholesterol produced by micro-organisms found in the intestinal tract of mammals. This substance abounds in urban effluents and is accumulated by organisms living in the vicinity of municipal effluent outfalls. In an earlier study, freshwater mussels exposed to contaminated river water for 62 days accumulated large quantities of coprostanol (Cop) in their soft tissues (16 μg/g dry wt.). Moreover, these mussels were found to have elevated levels of vitellin in their hemolymphs, suggesting estrogenic effects. Alothough municipal wastewaters are known to contain other estrogenic compounds capable of inducing Vn synthesis in mussels, the estrogenic potential of coprostanol was singled out for examination. To this end, mussels were first injected with concentrations of coprostanol via the abductor muscle route, and alllowed to stand in aerated water for 72 h at 15°C. The levels of Vn in mussel hemolymph were assayed using the organic alkali-labile phosphate method. A competitive estradiol-binding assay was then devised to measure the ability of coprostanol to complete in the binding of fluorescein-labeled estradiol-albumin to cytosolic proteins. Coprostanol partially reversed the binding of labeled estradiol-albumin to cytosolic proteins with an EC₅₀ of 1 mM. in addition, injections of coprostanol and estradiol-17β led to increased levels of vitellins in the hemolymph of treated mussels. Moreover, incubation of cop in gonad homogenate extracts in the presence of NADPH led to the formation of two compounds, as determined by high-performance thin-layer chromatography. One of these compounds appears to be the C17 oxidation product of coprostanol, whose polarity is similar to that of estradiol. The results present evidence that coprstanol is estrogenic to freshwater mussels.
Environmental Pollution115, no. 1 (24 August 2001): 97–106.