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Carrots were grown on soils polluted by heavy metal salts. Each particular microelement reached a high concentration [molybdenum (Mo) 39.00, cadmium (Cd) 2.30, lead (Pb) 4.01, mercury (Hg) 30.00, and selenium (Se) 36.20 mg/kg dry matter] in the carrot. In a metabolic balance trial conducted with 15 male and 15 fe-male New Zealand White rabbits, the control animals (n = 5) were fed ad libitum with concentrate as basal diet, while the other rabbits received the basal diet and car-rots containing the particular microelement. Blood samples were taken to determine the activity of serum enzymes. To investigate the metabolism of Mo, Cd, Pb, Hg and Se, samples were taken from the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen, ovaries/testicles, entire digestive tract, adipose tissue, femur, hair, faeces and urine. Carrot had signifi-cantly higher digestibility for all nutrients than the rabbit concentrate. Carrot samples of high Pb content had the lowest digestibility of crude protein. The microelements differed in their rate of accumulation in the organs examined: Mo and Cd accumu-lated in the kidneys, Pb in the kidneys, liver, bones and lungs, Hg in the kidneys and liver, while Se in the liver, kidneys and heart. The proportions of microelements eliminated from the body either via the faeces and urine (Mo 80.18% and Se 47.41%) or via the faeces (Cd 37.86%, Pb 66.39%, Hg 64.65%) were determined. Pathohistological examination revealed that the rate of spermatogenesis was reduced in the Mo, Cd, Pb and Hg groups compared to the control. Lead, Cd and Hg intake resulted in a considerable decrease in gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and in an increase of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity because of damages to the kidneys and bones. All experimental treatments decreased the activity of cholinesterase (CHE) because of lesions in the liver.

Keywords: carrot; heavy metals; rabbit; serum enzymes; soil-plant-animal chain

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-10-21

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