Concentrations of chlorinated and brominated contaminants and their metabolites in serum of harbour seals and harbour porpoises

Laboratory of Ecophysiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium.
Environment international (Impact Factor: 5.56). 03/2009; 35(6):842-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.02.001
Source: PubMed


Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are top predators in the North Sea and consequently accumulate a variety of pollutants in their tissues. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and their hydroxylated metabolites (HO-PCBs and HO-PBDEs) were measured in serum of wild harbour seals (n=47) and captive harbour porpoises (n=21). Both species exhibit long life spans and do not have extreme situations, such as complete fasting during periods of lactation, in their annual cycles. For PCBs, concentrations in adult males were slightly higher than in juveniles and lowest in juvenile females. For PBDEs, juveniles have higher levels than adult males and females, probably as a consequence of lactational transfer. However, differences between these age-gender groups were not statistical significant, indicating that individual variation was limited within each species, even without knowing the feeding status of the animals. Body condition, particularly emaciation, has a major influence on the levels of chlorinated and brominated contaminants in serum. Profiles of PCBs were CB 153>CB 138>CB 187>CB 180 and CB 153>CB 138>CB 149>CB 187>CB 180 for harbour seals and porpoises respectively. For PBDEs, BDE 47 was the predominant congener followed by BDE 100 and 99 in both species. In harbour seals, concentrations of sum PCBs (median: 39,200 pg/ml) were more than 200 times higher than levels of sum PBDEs (median: 130 pg/ml) and almost 10 times higher than concentrations of sum HO-PCBs (4350 pg/ml). In harbour porpoises, concentrations of sum PCBs (median: 24,300 pg/ml) were about 20 times higher than concentrations of PBDEs (median: 1300 pg/ml). HO-PCBs were detected in only 4 harbour porpoises and this at very low concentrations. Naturally-produced MeO-PBDEs were only found in harbour porpoises at concentrations ranging from 120 to 810 pg/ml. HO-PBDEs were not found in any species. In general, harbour seals accumulate less compounds and have mostly lower concentrations than harbour porpoises possibly as a result of a better developed metabolism.

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    • "Newman et al. 1994; Hall et al. 2003; Foltz et al. 2014) as well as in blood (e.g. Newman et al. 1994; Hall et al. 2003; Das et al. 2008; Weijs et al. 2009), but the most important reason for using these tissues is their usefulness in ex vivo/ in vitro experiments. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is widely recognized that marine mammals are exposed to a wide variety of pollutants, with a weight of evidence indicating impacts on their health. Since hundreds of new chemicals enter the global market every year, the methods, approaches and technologies used to characterize pollution levels or impacts are also in a constant state of flux. However, legal and ethical constraints often limit the type and extent of toxicological research being carried out in marine mammals. Nevertheless, new and emerging in vivo, in vitro as well as in silico research opportunities abound in the field of marine mammal toxicology. In the application of findings to population-, species-, or habitat-related risk assessments, the identification of causal relationships which inform source apportionment is important. This, in turn, is informed by a comprehensive understanding of contaminant classes, profiles and fate over space and time. Such considerations figure prominently in the design and interpretation of marine mammal (eco)toxicology research. This mini-review attempts to follow the evolution behind marine mammal toxicology until now, highlight some of the research that has been done and suggest opportunities for future research. This Special Issue will showcase new developments in marine mammal toxicology, approaches for exposure-effect research in risk assessment as well as future opportunities.
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    • "Blood sampling of harbor seals is considered minimally invasive and allows the analyses of pollutants, biomarkers, and health parameters additionally to in vitro cell experiments from living animals. For the North Sea, several investigations have been performed to measure contaminants (Griesel et al. 2006; Das et al. 2008; Griesel et al. 2008; Kakuschke et al. 2009; Weijs et al. 2009a, b, c; Kakuschke et al. 2010b), assess immune cell functions (De Swart 1995; Ross 1995; Kakuschke et al. 2005; Das et al. 2008; Dupont et al. 2013), or analyse biomarkers (Fonfara et al. 2008; Hasselmeier et al. 2008; Kakuschke et al. 2010a; Grebe et al. 2010, 2011, 2012; Kakuschke et al. 2013) in blood samples of harbor seals. Most of these studies focused on animals closed to urbanized areas along the Wadden Sea coast. "
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    ABSTRACT: The harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from Helgoland (North Sea) and Anholt (Kattegat, Baltic Sea) are top predators within the marine food web and an indicator species of the environmental contamination. Furthermore, they are a main tourist attraction. Despite these important roles, little is known about the health and pollutant contamination of these seals. The objective of this study was therefore to investigate 18 essential and nonessential/toxic elements (Al, As, Be, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mn, Mo, Ni, P, Pb, Rb, S, Se, Sr, and Zn) in blood samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and total X-ray-fluorescence spectrometry. Blood concentrations of mineral nutrients, such as Ca, K, P, and S, were within the reference ranges described for harbor seals. Likewise, for the trace elements, As, Be, Rb, Se, and Sr, no significant differences were observed compared with previous studies. Interestingly, blood concentrations of nine nonessential as well as essential trace metals (Al, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Zn) measured significantly lower in the offshore living seals from Helgoland and Anholt compared with results obtained from animals living close to urbanized areas, such as the Wadden Sea and Elbe estuary. This suggests that industrial emissions, sewage deposition, shipping traffic and dredging tasks might be the cause of increased metal concentrations of inshore harbor seals.
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    • "Actually, interspecies differences in the induction and catalytic activity of hepatic CYP isoforms have been reported (Martignoni et al., 2006). Fig. 2 shows the concentration ratios of OH-PCB isomers to their potential precursor PCBs (OH-PCBs/PCBs ratios) in Baikal seals and harbor seals (Weijs et al., 2009). Noticeable different concentration ratios were observed for 4OH-CB187/CB183 + CB187 (Baikal seal: 0.35, Harbor seal: 0.053) and 4OH-CB107/CB105 + CB118 (Baikal Fig. 2. The concentration ratios of OH-PCB isomers to their potential precursor PCBs (OH-PCBs/PCBs ratios) in Baikal seals and harbor seals. "
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