Steroid hormones and persistent organic pollutants in plasma from North-eastern Atlantic pilot whales

Katrin S. Hoydal, Bjarne Styrishave, Tomasz M. Ciesielski, Robert J. Letcher, Maria Dam, Bjørn M. Jenssen

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are known to have endocrine disruptive effects, interfering with endogenous steroid hormones. The present study examined nine steroid hormones and their relationships with the concentrations of selected POPs in pilot whales (Globicephala melas) from the Faroe Islands, NE Atlantic. The different steroids were detected in 15 to all of the 26 individuals. High concentrations of progesterone (83.3–211.7 pmol/g) and pregnenolone (PRE; 4.68–5.69 pmol/g) were found in three adult females indicating that they were pregnant or ovulating. High androgen concentrations in two of the males reflected that one was adult and that one (possibly) had reached puberty. In males a significant positive and strong correlation between body length and testosterone (TS) levels was identified. Furthermore, positive and significant correlations were found between 4-OH-CB107/4’-OH-CB108 and 17β-estradiol in males. In adult females significant positive correlations were identified between PRE and CB149 and t-nonachlor, between estrone and CB138, -149, -187 and p,p’-DDE, between androstenedione and CB187, and between TS and CB-99 and -153. Although relationships between the POPs and the steroid hormones reported herein are not evidence of cause-effect relationships, the positive correlations between steroids and POPs, particularly in females, suggest that POPs may have some endocrine disrupting effects on the steroid homeostasis in this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-621
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue numberNovember 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Pilot whales
  • Steroid hormones
  • POPs
  • Endocrine disruption


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