The effects of aluminum on plasma ion, lipid, protein and steroid hormone concentration were evaluated in Oreochromis niloticus broodstock females. Lipid and protein concentrations from the gonads and liver were also measured. Experiments were performed at neutral and acidic water pH. Four groups of fish were tested for 96h: 1) control conditions at neutral water pH; 2) control conditions at acidic water pH (CTR-Ac); 3) aluminum at neutral water pH (Al-N); and 4) aluminum at acidic water pH (Al-Ac). Aluminum and acidic water pH exposure caused no ionoregulatory disturbances. Total lipid concentration increased in the mature gonads and decreased in the liver, suggesting an acceleration of lipid mobilization to the ovaries in animals exposed to aluminum. However, a decreased protein concentration in ovaries was also observed. Exposure of control fish to acidic water pH caused an increased concentration of plasma 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone. However, females exposed to aluminum at acidic water pH showed a decreased of plasma 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone and cortisol. No differences in plasma 17beta-estradiol were observed. The physiological mechanisms underlying the disturbances observed are discussed focusing on reproduction. We suggest that aluminum can be considered an endocrine disrupting compound in mature O. niloticus females.
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