alexa Histopathological biomarkers in estuarine fish species for the assessment of biological effects of contaminants


Toxicology: Open Access

Author(s): GD Stentiford, M Longshaw, BP Lyons, G Jones, M Green

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The increasing emphasis on the assessment and monitoring of estuarine ecosystems has highlighted the need to deploy appropriate biological indices for these locations. Fish diseases and histopathology, with a broad range of causes, are increasingly being used as indicators of environmental stress since they provide a definite biological end-point of historical exposure. This study reports on the histopathological alterations observed in selected organs and tissues of three species of estuarine fish (Platichthys flesus, Pomatoschistus minutus and Zoarces viviparus), captured from four British estuaries (the Tyne, Tees, Mersey and Alde), differently impacted by contaminants, including PAHs. A biannual sampling regime was used to identify the important seasonal variations that occur in terms of the observed biological effects. Inflammatory lesions and hepatocellular fibrillar inclusions attained their highest prevalence in P. flesus captured from the Tyne, Tees and Mersey. The presence of pre-neoplastic and neoplastic toxicopathic lesions was highest in P. flesus captured from these sites, when compared to fish from the Alde reference site. In particular, the prevalence of hepatic foci of cellular alteration (up to 43.3%) and hepatocellular adenoma (up to 10%) were highest in P. flesus captured from the Mersey estuary. Intersex (ovotestis) was only recorded in male P. flesus captured from the Mersey estuary (up to 8.3%) and from male Z. viviparous captured from the Tyne estuary (25%). Pathologies associated with the gill and the kidney were also most prevalent in fish captured from the Tyne, Tees and Mersey estuaries. This study has successfully applied histopathology to an estuarine monitoring program, both for the recording of toxicopathic lesions in the liver and other organs, and for the detection of the endpoint of endocrine disruption, intersex. As such, it provides a powerful integrative tool for the assessment of biological effects of contaminants in these environments.

This article was published in Marine Environmental Research and referenced in Toxicology: Open Access

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