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Immunotoxicity Biomarkers in Fish: Development, Validation and Application for Field Studies and Risk Assessment

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Imunocompetence is usually monitored using a tiered approach that is based upon several parameters including immunopathology, immune function, and host resistance. Through the efforts of numerous investigations, well-characterized immune assays validated in rodents for their sensitivity and reproducibility in assessing xenobiotic-induced immunotoxicity are currently available. Recently, many of these same endpoints have been utilized in non-mammalian species as indicators to predict chemical-induced immunotoxicity. In this laboratory, immune assays that measure immunopathology, antibody-forming cell response to T-dependent antigens, lymphocyte proliferation, macrophage function, antioxidant activity, and host resistance against infectious bacteria have been employed successfully to assess metal-, pesticide-, aromatic hydrocarbon-, and mixture-induced immunotoxicity in laboratory-reared Japanese medaka ( Oryzias latipes ). These same assays have also proven successful in feral fish populations for predicting risk(s) associated with habitation in contaminated aquatic environments. For example, smallmouth bass ( Micropterus dolomieu ) collected from a polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated site had reduced phagocyte function, oxyradical production, and antioxidant levels (compared to reference fish), while circulating leukocyte profiles and lymphocyte proliferation by splenic T-cells were altered in organochlorine-exposed walleye ( Stizostedium vitreum vitreum ). Results of the aforementioned studies demonstrate that immune assays developed and validated in a laboratory fish model can be successfully applied to feral fish populations to predict the toxicological hazards associated with exposure to immunomodulating aquatic pollutants.

Keywords: biomarkers; fish; immune assays; immunotoxicity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: New York University School of Medicine, Department of Environmental Medicine, 57 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo, NY 10987 2: Joseph Beaman, Maryland Department of the Environment, 2500 Broening Highway, Baltimore, MD 3: California EPA, Sacramento, CA

Publication date: April 1, 2002


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