Trace element levels in foetus–mother pairs of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) stranded along the French coasts

Centre de Recherche sur les Ecosystèmes Littoraux Anthropisés, UMR 6217 CNRS-IFREMER-Université de La Rochelle, Université de La Rochelle, 22 Avenue Michel Crépeau, 17042 La Rochelle Cedex, France.
Environment International (Impact Factor: 5.56). 12/2007; 33(8):1021-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2007.05.008
Source: PubMed


Tissues of foetus-mother pairs of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) stranded along the French coasts (Bay of Biscay and English Channel) were analysed for their Cd, Cu, Hg, Se and Zn contents. In the kidneys, foetal Cd levels were extremely low, and strong relationships between Cu and Zn suggested the involvement of metallothioneins since early foetal life. The results also indicated a limited maternal transfer of Hg during pregnancy since levels in the tissues of foetuses were below 1 microg g(-1) w.wt. However, hepatic Hg levels in foetuses increased with body length, and were also proportionate to maternal hepatic, renal and muscular Hg levels. Lastly, affinities between Hg and Se in tissues would participate in Hg neutralisation in both mothers--through tiemannite granules--and fetuses--through reduced glutathione--counteracting the toxic effects linked to the particularly high quantities of methyl-Hg to which marine mammals are naturally exposed.

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    • "In the current study, Cu in muscle and kidney and Zn in muscle significantly decreased with body length (p < 0.05) whilst Zn in epidermis significantly increased (p < 0.01). Because these elements cross the placental barrier and accumulate in the foetal liver, which has higher metallothionein content than the liver of adults for the storage of essential elements for foetal growth (Teigen et al., 1999), many studies on marine mammals have shown higher concentrations of Cu in the foetus than in adults (Law, 1996; Lahaye et al., 2007; Agusa et al., 2008; .Yang et al., 2004). In addition , higher concentrations of Cu and Zn in juveniles than in adults have been also found in previous studies (Honda et al., 1983; Law, 1996; Teigen et al., 1999; Zhou et al., 2001; Agusa et al., 2008). "
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    • "The data available in the literature on elemental contents in marine mammals is mostly on those with known toxic effects (Honda et al. 1983; André et al. 1990; Caurant et al. 2006) and on essential elements (Caurant et al. 1994; Wood and Van Vleet 1996; Lahaye et al. 2007); however, little information can be found about elements like Ag, V and electrolytes such as Cl, Na and K (Mackey et al. 1996; Seixas et al. 2009a). In addition, these studies involve specimens derived usually from bycatch or stranding events (Lahaye et al. 2007), and significant features are hindered by difficulties arising from examining tissues that have undergone post-mortem autolysis (Lavery et al. 2009). Because, in most cases, these are the only specimens available for research, an opportunistically but basic source of information (Holsbeek et al. 1998; Storelli et al. 1998; Law et al. 2003), it is important that the methods for measuring elemental contents in carcasses are developed to allow accurate determinations of the animals' health, nutritional status and relation with the marine environment (Aguilar et al. 1999; Lavery et al. 2008, 2009; Agusa et al. 2011). "
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    • "Frodello et al. (2000) reported that Hg accumulation in the common dolphin was highest in the liver, and then occurred, in descending order, in: kidney > muscle > skin > gill > muscle. Similar patterns of Hg accumulation in the common dolphin have also been reported from the French coast (Holsbeek et al. 1998; Lahaye et al. 2007), in the Irish Sea (Law et al. 1992), and off New Zealand (Stockin et al. 2007) (Table 3). Wagemann and Muir (1984) "
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