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How does the greater white-toothed shrew, Crocidura russula, responds to long-term heavy metal contamination? -- A case study.

Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Departamento Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.
Science of The Total Environment (Impact Factor: 3.26). 05/2007; 376(1-3):128-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.01.061
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Heavy metals accumulation in parallel with the evaluation of physiological and biochemical effects resulting from continued metal exposure were considered here using for the first time the great white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula as an in vivo model. Shrews were originated from an abandoned lead/zinc mining area and from a reference area, both in Alentejo, southern Portugal. Hepatic contents of nickel, copper, zinc, cadmium, mercury and lead were quantified by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). Haematological parameters (white blood cells, red blood cells, haemoglobin and haematocrit) were obtained in a Coulter Counter Analyser and biochemical markers of the redox balance (glutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase) activities were measured spectrophotometrically using a Duo-50 spectrophotometer. Compared with control animals, significantly higher concentration of hepatic cadmium (9.29 vs. 1.18 micorg/g dry weight) and nickel (1.56 vs. 0.343 microg/g dry weight) were detected in the shrews collected in the mining area. However, no significant changes were observed on haematological or enzymatic parameters in animals exposed to metal pollution. The obtained results show that shrews are good bioaccumulators of toxic heavy metals, but very tolerant to their effects, revealing an interesting long-term adaptation to polluted environments. In addition, this study provides reference values for haematological parameters and antioxidant enzymes levels in C. russula, which may be relevant for comparative purposes in further studies.

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