Analysis of testosterone fatty acid esters in the digestive gland of mussels by liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry

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Several studies have indicated that up to 70% of the total steroids detected in molluscs are in the esterified form and that pollutants, by modifying the esterification of steroids with fatty acids, might act as endocrine disrupters. However, despite the strong physiological significance of this process, there is almost no information on which fatty acids form the steroid esters and how this process is modulated. This study (a) investigates the formation of fatty acid esters of testosterone in digestive gland microsomal fractions of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis incubated with either palmitoly-CoA or CoA and ATP, and (b) assesses whether the endocrine disruptor tributyltin (TBT) interferes with the esterification of testosterone. Analysis of testosterone esters was performed by liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS). When microsomal fractions were incubated with testosterone and palmitoly-CoA, the formation of testosterone palmitate was detected. However, when microsomes were incubated with CoA and ATP, and no exogenous activated fatty acid was added, the synthesis of 16:0, 16:1, 20:5 and 22:6 testosterone esters was observed. The presence of 100 μM TBT in the incubation mixture did not significantly alter the esterification of testosterone. These results evidence the conjugation of testosterone with the most abundant fatty acids in the digestive gland microsomal fraction of mussels.

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