Conazoles are a class of imidazole- or triazole-containing drugs commonly used as fungicides in agriculture and medicine. The broad application of azole drugs has led to the contamination of surface aquifers receiving the effluent of municipal or hospital wastewater or agricultural runoff. Several triazoles are rodent carcinogens; azole pollution is a concern to environmental safety and human health. However, the carcinogenic mechanisms associated with cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) of conazoles remain unclear. We exposed adult medaka fish (Oryzias latipes) to continuous aqueous solutions of carcinogenic triadimefon and non-carcinogenic myclobutanil for 7 to 20 days at sub-lethal or environmentally relevant concentrations and assessed hepatic CYP activity and gene expression associated with CYP-mediated toxicity. Both triadimefon and myclobutanil induced hepatic CYP3A activity, but only triadimefon enhanced CYP1A activity. The gene expression of cyp3a38, cyp3a40, pregnane x receptor (pxr), cyp26b, retinoid acid receptor γ1 (rarγ1) and p53 was higher with triadimefon than myclobutanil. As well, yeast-based reporter gene assay revealed that 4 tested conazoles were weak agonists of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). We reveal differential CYP gene expression with carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic conazoles in a lower vertebrate, medaka fish. Liver CYP-enzyme induction may be a key event in conazole-induced tumorigenesis. This information is essential to evaluate the potential threat of conazoles to human health and fish populations in the aquatic environment.
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