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Event: 1789

Key Event Title

The KE title should describe a discrete biological change that can be measured. It should generally define the biological object or process being measured and whether it is increased, decreased, or otherwise definably altered relative to a control state. For example “enzyme activity, decreased”, “hormone concentration, increased”, or “growth rate, decreased”, where the specific enzyme or hormone being measured is defined. More help

Reduction, 17beta-estradiol synthesis by the undifferentiated gonad

Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. The short name should be less than 80 characters in length. More help
Reduction, E2 Synthesis by the undifferentiated gonad

Biological Context

Structured terms, selected from a drop-down menu, are used to identify the level of biological organization for each KE. Note, KEs should be defined within a particular level of biological organization. Only KERs should be used to transition from one level of organization to another. Selection of the level of biological organization defines which structured terms will be available to select when defining the Event Components (below). More help
Level of Biological Organization

Cell term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Cell term
primordial germ cell

Organ term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Organ term

Key Event Components

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.Because one of the aims of the AOP-KB is to facilitate de facto construction of AOP networks through the use of shared KE and KER elements, authors are also asked to define their KEs using a set of structured ontology terms (Event Components). In the absence of structured terms, the same KE can readily be defined using a number of synonymous titles (read by a computer as character strings). In order to make these synonymous KEs more machine-readable, KEs should also be defined by one or more “event components” consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 22 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; See List). Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling). The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signalling by that receptor).Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description. To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons. If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests. Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add. More help
Process Object Action
estrogen biosynthetic process 17beta-estradiol decreased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE. Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Aromatase inhibition leads to male-biased sex ratio via impacts on gonad differentiation KeyEvent Kelvin Santana Rodriguez (send email) Under Development: Contributions and Comments Welcome


This is a structured field used to identify specific agents (generally chemicals) that can trigger the KE. Stressors identified in this field will be linked to the KE in a machine-readable manner, such that, for example, a stressor search would identify this as an event the stressor can trigger. NOTE: intermediate or downstream KEs in one AOP may function as MIEs in other AOPs, meaning that stressor information may be added to the KE description, even if it is a downstream KE in the pathway currently under development.Information concerning the stressors that may trigger an MIE can be defined using a combination of structured and unstructured (free-text) fields. For example, structured fields may be used to indicate specific chemicals for which there is evidence of an interaction relevant to this MIE. By linking the KE description to a structured chemical name, it will be increasingly possible to link the MIE to other sources of chemical data and information, enhancing searchability and inter-operability among different data-sources and knowledgebases. The free-text section “Evidence for perturbation of this MIE by stressor” can be used both to identify the supporting evidence for specific stressors triggering the MIE as well as to define broad chemical categories or other properties that classify the stressors able to trigger the MIE for which specific structured terms may not exist. More help

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) can be selected from an ontology. In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
Vertebrates Vertebrates Moderate NCBI

Life Stages

The structured ontology terms for life-stage are more comprehensive than those for taxa, but may still require further description/development and explanation in the free text section. More help
Life stage Evidence
Development Moderate

Sex Applicability

The authors must select from one of the following: Male, female, mixed, asexual, third gender, hermaphrodite, or unspecific. More help
Term Evidence
Unspecific Low

Key Event Description

A description of the biological state being observed or measured, the biological compartment in which it is measured, and its general role in the biology should be provided. For example, the biological state being measured could be the activity of an enzyme, the expression of a gene or abundance of an mRNA transcript, the concentration of a hormone or protein, neuronal activity, heart rate, etc. The biological compartment may be a particular cell type, tissue, organ, fluid (e.g., plasma, cerebrospinal fluid), etc. The role in the biology could describe the reaction that an enzyme catalyses and the role of that reaction within a given metabolic pathway; the protein that a gene or mRNA transcript codes for and the function of that protein; the function of a hormone in a given target tissue, physiological function of an organ, etc. Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs, KERs or AOPs. Only describe this KE as a single isolated measurable event/state. This will ensure that the KE is modular and can be used by other AOPs, thereby facilitating construction of AOP networks. More help

Estrogens are essential for normal ovarian differentiation, growth and maintenance. When estrogens bind to estrogen receptors (ER), these then regulate the transcription of downstream estrogen-responsive genes necessary for proper gonad development (Guiguen et al., 2010; Gorelick et al., 2011). Among the different forms of estrogens, 17β-estradiol (E2) is considered the most fundamental in gonad differentiation in most vertebrates, as it is responsible for inducing and maintaining ovarian development (Bondesson et al., 2015; Li et al., 2019). Conversely, disruption of the E2 synthesis by the undifferentiated gonad has been linked to altered gonad differentiation and development in many vertebrates. 

How It Is Measured or Detected

One of the primary considerations in evaluating AOPs is the relevance and reliability of the methods with which the KEs can be measured. The aim of this section of the KE description is not to provide detailed protocols, but rather to capture, in a sentence or two, per method, the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements. Methods that can be used to detect or measure the biological state represented in the KE should be briefly described and/or cited. These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA).Key considerations regarding scientific confidence in the measurement approach include whether the assay is fit for purpose, whether it provides a direct or indirect measure of the biological state in question, whether it is repeatable and reproducible, and the extent to which it is accepted in the scientific and/or regulatory community. Information can be obtained from the OECD Test Guidelines website and the EURL ECVAM Database Service on Alternative Methods to Animal Experimentation (DB-ALM). ?

Estrogen concentrations can be measured via radioimmunoassay (e.g., US EPA 2002) or by analytical methods such as LC/MS/MS (e.g., Gravitte et al. 2021; Jalabert et al. 2021; Nouri et al. 2020).  Measurement in the undifferentiated gonad would generally require extraction of tissue homogenates. This tissue can be very limited during primordial stages.

Domain of Applicability

This free text section should be used to elaborate on the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided). While structured terms may be selected to define the taxonomic, life stage and sex applicability (see structured applicability terms, above) of the KE, the structured terms may not adequately reflect or capture the overall biological applicability domain (particularly with regard to taxa). Likewise, the structured terms do not provide an explanation or rationale for the selection. The free-text section on evidence for taxonomic, life stage, and sex applicability can be used to elaborate on why the specific structured terms were selected, and provide supporting references and background information.  More help

Taxonomic applicability:  Most of the key enzymes involved in the process of E2 biosynthesis are well conserved among vertebrates (Callard et al., 2001; Thornton et al., 2001; Eick et al., 2011; Coumailleau et al., 2015). Estrogens play a key role in embryonic development particularly during gonadogenesis for most vertebrates (Coumailleauet al., 2015; Callard et al., 2015). Therefore, it is possible that this key event is applicable to most vertebrate taxa. In contrast, this key event is not applicable to organisms that lack the necessary enzymes for estrogen synthesis such as invertebrates (Jones et al., 2017). 

Life stage applicability:  Endogenous steroid biosynthesis generally begins shortly after birth or hatch.

Sex applicability:  This key event applies to the undifferentiated gonad. Therefore, sex is non-specific. 


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. Ideally, the list of references, should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide ( (OECD, 2015). More help

Bondesson, M., Hao, R., Lin, C. Y., Williams, C., & Gustafsson, J. Å. (2015). Estrogen receptor signaling during vertebrate development. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1849(2), 142–151. 

Callard, G. V., Tarrant, A. M., Novillo, A., Yacci, P., Ciaccia, L., Vajda, S., Chuang, G. Y., Kozakov, D., Greytak, S. R., Sawyer, S., Hoover, C., & Cotter, K. A. (2011). Evolutionary origins of the estrogen signaling system: insights from amphioxus. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 127(3-5), 176–188. 

Cheshenko, K., Pakdel, F., Segner, H., Kah, O., & Eggen, R. I. (2008). Interference of endocrine disrupting chemicals with aromatase CYP19 expression or activity, and consequences for reproduction of teleost fish. General and comparative endocrinology155(1), 31–62. 

Coumailleau, P., Pellegrini, E., Adrio, F., Diotel, N., Cano-Nicolau, J., Nasri, A., Vaillant, C., & Kah, O. (2015). Aromatase, estrogen receptors and brain development in fish and amphibians. Biochimica et biophysica acta1849(2), 152–162. 

Eick, G. N., & Thornton, J. W. (2011). Evolution of steroid receptors from an estrogen-sensitive ancestral receptor. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 334(1-2), 31–38. 

Gorelick, D. A., & Halpern, M. E. (2011). Visualization of estrogen receptor transcriptional activation in zebrafish. Endocrinology, 152(7), 2690–2703.

Gravitte A, Archibald T, Cobble A, Kennard B, Brown S. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry applications for quantification of endogenous sex hormones. Biomed Chromatogr. 2021 Jan;35(1):e5036. doi: 10.1002/bmc.5036.

Guiguen, Y., Fostier, A., Piferrer, F., & Chang, C. F. (2010). Ovarian aromatase and estrogens: a pivotal role for gonadal sex differentiation and sex change in fish. General and comparative endocrinology165(3), 352–366. 

Jalabert C, Ma C, Soma KK. Profiling of systemic and brain steroids in male songbirds: Seasonal changes in neurosteroids. J Neuroendocrinol. 2021 Jan;33(1):e12922. doi: 10.1111/jne.12922.

Jones, B. L., Walker, C., Azizi, B., Tolbert, L., Williams, L. D., & Snell, T. W. (2017). Conservation of estrogen receptor function in invertebrate reproduction. BMC evolutionary biology, 17(1), 65. 

Li, M., Sun, L., & Wang, D. (2019). Roles of estrogens in fish sexual plasticity and sex differentiation. General and comparative endocrinology277, 9–16.

Nouri MZ, Kroll KJ, Webb M, Denslow ND. Quantification of steroid hormones in low volume plasma and tissue homogenates of fish using LC-MS/MS. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2020 Sep 15;296:113543. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2020.113543.

Ruksana, S., Pandit, N. P., & Nakamura, M. (2010). Efficacy of exemestane, a new generation of aromatase inhibitor, on sex differentiation in a gonochoristic fish. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Toxicology & pharmacology : CBP, 152(1), 69–74. 

Schroeder, A. L., Ankley, G. T., Habib, T., Garcia-Reyero, N., Escalon, B. L., Jensen, K. M., Kahl, M. D., Durhan, E. J., Makynen, E. A., Cavallin, J. E., Martinovic-Weigelt, D., Perkins, E. J., & Villeneuve, D. L. (2017). Rapid effects of the aromatase inhibitor fadrozole on steroid production and gene expression in the ovary of female fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). General and comparative endocrinology, 252, 79–87. 

Thornton J. W. (2001). Evolution of vertebrate steroid receptors from an ancestral estrogen receptor by ligand exploitation and serial genome expansions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98(10), 5671–5676. 

US EPA. 2002. A Short-term test method for assessing the reproductive toxicity of endocrine-disrupting chemicals using the Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas). EPA/600/R-01/067. Appendix C.

Warner, D. A., Addis, E., Du, W. G., Wibbels, T., & Janzen, F. J. (2014). Exogenous application of estradiol to eggs unexpectedly induces male development in two turtle species with temperature-dependent sex determination. General and comparative endocrinology206, 16–23. 

Yin, Y., Tang, H., Liu, Y., Chen, Y., Li, G., Liu, X., & Lin, H. (2017). Targeted Disruption of Aromatase Reveals Dual Functions of cyp19a1a During Sex Differentiation in Zebrafish. Endocrinology158(9), 3030–3041.