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Biological indications of contaminant exposure in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Baltic Sea

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The Baltic Sea is exposed to severe human impacts. Besides eutrophication and overfishing, a variety of chemical contaminants threaten the health of fish. During a cruise in December 2001, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) were collected in the western and southern Baltic Sea, somatic condition factors were estimated, and different biomarkers of contaminant exposure were analysed. Additionally, various polychlorinated biphenyl congeners and organochlorine pesticides were measured in cod liver as more general indicators of pollution, not necessarily as the causative agents for biomarker signals. In most specimens, hepatic ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity and bile 1-OH pyrene, a common polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolite, were detectable. Both features indicate an induction of the CYP1A biotransformation system in response to toxic substances. The increased occurrence of DNA adducts in some of the specimens also indicates the presence of genotoxic substances. Acetylcholinesterase was inhibited, an indication of exposure to organophosphates, carbamates, or certain heavy metals, particularly in specimens taken at Wismar Bay and off the Lithuanian coast. In general, spatial differences in the biomarker responses as well as in contaminant loads were found, suggesting differences in physiologically active concentrations and mixtures of organic contaminants in this ecosystem.

La Baltique est exposée à d’importants impacts anthropiques. En plus de l’eutrophisation et de la surpêche, une gamme de contaminants chimiques menace la santé des poissons. Durant une expédition en mer en décembre 2001, nous avons récolté des morues franche (Gadus morhua) dans l’ouest et le sud de la Baltique, estimé leur coefficient de condition somatique et analysé différents biomarqueurs de leur exposition aux contaminants. De plus, nous avons dosé divers congénères des biphényles polychrorés et pesticides organochlorés dans le foie des morues, plus comme indicateurs généraux de pollution et non nécessairement comme agents responsables des signaux des biomarqueurs. Dans la plupart des spécimens, il était possible de détecter une activité de l’éthoxyrésorufine-O-dééthylase hépatique et la présence de 1-OH pyrène biliaire, un métabolite commun des hydrocarbures aromatiques polycycliques . Ces deux phénomènes signalent l’induction du système de biotransformation CYP1A en réaction aux substances toxiques. La présence accrue d’adduits de l’ADN chez certains des spécimens indique l’existence de substances génotoxiques. Il y avait inhibition de la cholinestérase , ce qui signale une exposition aux organophosphates, aux carbamates ou à certains métaux lourds, particulièrement chez les spécimens capturés dans la baie de Wismar et au large de la côte lithuanienne. En général, il existait des différences spatiales dans les réactions des biomarqueurs, ainsi que dans les charges de contaminants, ce qui laisse croire à des différences dans les concentrations physiologiquement actives et les mélanges de contaminants organiques dans cet écosystème.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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