Effects of mixtures of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) derived from cod liver oil on H295R steroidogenesis

M. Montano, K.E. Zimmer, E. Dahl, V. Berge, I. Olsaker, J.U. Skaare, A.J. Murk, E. Ropstad, S. Verhaegen

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Crude cod liver oil and liver oil supplements are consumed as a source of vitamin A, D and polyunsaturated fatty acids; during winter and early pregnancy. Crude cod liver oil however constitutes a considerable source of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This paper aimed at characterizing and quantifying the influence of POP mixtures extracted from three different steps in the cod liver oil industrial process on hormone production and the expression of steroidogenesis-related genes in H295R cells. Exposure to extracts from crude cod liver oil and from its industrial waste increased progesterone (P4), cortisol (Con), testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) production; and among others, the expression of MC2R, CYP11B1 and HSD3B2 genes. Observed effects after exposure to pharmaceutical cod liver oil extract were considerably lower. The type of effects on gene expression and hormone production were similar to those induced by forskolin and PCBs, the latter being the major contaminants within the extracts. Additional research is required to further unveil the mechanisms behind the observed steroidogenic effects and to assess whether the potential risk might outweigh the potential benefits of crude and processed cod liver oil consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2328-2335
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • brominated flame retardants
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • adrenocortical carcinoma-cells
  • in-vitro
  • hormone production
  • gene-expression
  • aromatic-hydrocarbons
  • metabolite p,p'-dde
  • steroid-secretion
  • pbde metabolites


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