Effects of the synthetic progestin levonorgestrel on some aspects of thyroid physiology in common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
The objective of the present study was to assess the effects of levonorgestrel (LNG), a synthetic progestin, on early development and the thyroid system of carp using morphological, histological, immunohistochemical, and gene expression analysis.
Fish were exposed to LNG at three levels (3, 31, and 310 ng L−1) from eggs to the onset of juvenile stage (47 days). LNG had no significant effect on early development in common carp or on the occurrence of morphological anomalies. No pathological alterations of the thyroid follicles were found. Immunohistochemical examination of the thyroid follicles using antibodies against thyroxin did not show any differences in fish exposed to 310 ng L−1 LNG compared to the controls. mRNA expression of iodothyronine deiodinases (dio1, 2, 3) was differentially affected by LNG treatment during carp development.
Most importantly, dio3 was markedly downregulated in fish exposed to all three LNG levels compared to the controls at the conclusion of the experiment (47 days post-fertilization). A decrease in dio1 or dio3 or an increase in dio2 transcription observed at different time points of the study may be a sign of hypothyroidism. mRNA expression of genes npr, esr1, and esr2b in the body and npr and esr2b in the head of fish exposed to 310 ng L−1 LNG was significantly upregulated compared to the solvent control group at the end of the test.
Together, these results show that levonorgestrel caused parallel changes in the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid and hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axes.