Mytilus edulis were exposed to 17β-estradiol (E2) and the synthetic estrogens ethinyl estradiol (EE2) and estradiol benzoate (EB) for 10 days. Two exposures were performed to determine their effect on vitellogenin (VTG) and estrogen receptor 2 (ER2) mRNA expression at different stages of the reproductive cycle. Significant natural variation was not observed in VTG mRNA expression, though ER2 mRNA expression displayed significantly lower values during January, February and July compared with other times of the year. A significant increase in VTG and ER2 mRNA expression was observed in mussels exposed to estrogens at the early stage of gametogenesis. In contrast, mature mussels displayed no statistically significant change in the VTG or ER2 mRNA expression. The data presented suggests that the reproductive physiology of molluscs, in terms of VTG and ER2 mRNA expression, may be susceptible to damage by environmental estrogens at certain points in their gametogenesis process.
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