Environmental Progestins Progesterone and Drospirenone Alter the Circadian Rhythm Network in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Yanbin Zhao, Sara Castiglioni, Karl Fent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Progestins alter hormone homeostasis and may result in reproductive effects in humans and animals. Thus far, studies in fish have focused on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG)-axis and reproduction, but other effects have little been investigated. Here we report that progesterone (P4) and drospirenone (DRS) interfere with regulation of the circadian rhythm in fish. Breeding pairs of adult zebrafish were exposed to P4 and DRS at concentrations between 7 and 13 650 ng/L for 21 days. Transcriptional analysis revealed significant and dose-dependent alterations of the circadian rhythm network in the brain with little effects in the gonads. Significant alterations of many target transcripts occurred even at environmental relevant concentrations of 7 ng/L P4 and at 99 ng/L DRS. They were fully consistent with the well-described circadian rhythm negative/positive feedback loops. Transcriptional alterations of the circadian rhythm network were correlated with those in the HPG-Liver-axis. Fecundity was decreased at 742 (P4) and 2763 (DRS) ng/L. Dose-dependent alterations in the circadian rhythm network were also observed in F1 eleuthero-embryos. Our results suggest a potential target of environmental progestins, the circadian rhythm network, in addition to the adverse reproductive effects. Forthcoming studies should show whether the transcriptional alterations in circadian rhythm translate into physiological effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10155-10164
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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