Embryotoxic potential of persistent organic pollutants extracted from tissues of guillemots (Uria aalge) from the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean

D.F. de Roode, M.B. Gustavsson, A.L. Rantalainen, A.V. Klomp, J.H. Koeman, A.T.C. Bosveld

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    The Baltic Sea is a heavily polluted area. To assess the current contaminant pressure on the common guillemot (Uria aalge) living there, whole-body extracts of guillemots from the Baltic Sea were prepared and subdivided over six fractions, which differed in composition due to lipophilicity and polarity of the contaminants. The fractions were tested in the chicken embryo assay and compared to fractions of Atlantic guillemot extracts. Fertilized chicken eggs were injected with 0.03, 0.3, or 3 bird egg equivalents (BEQ) of the contaminants present in the fractions and then incubated for 19 d. Endpoints were selected to cover several mechanisms that may play a role in reproductive failures of fish-eating birds. Fractions I and IV from the Baltic guillemots induced ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity up to 15-fold in embryos exposed to 0.3 BEQ and up to 17-fold in embryos exposed to 3 BEQ. Corresponding Atlantic fractions induced EROD activity only at the higher dose of 3 BEQ. Morphological alterations were observed in the bursa of Fabricius in embryos exposed to the fractions that induced EROD, and for the Baltic fractions, this was apparent at the dose of 0.3 BEQ. The higher toxic potency of fractions I and IV was confirmed by higher mortality and occurrence of malformations among embryos exposed to these fractions. No other effects were observed; morphometry, hepatic porphyrin levels, thiamine-dependent enzymes, and acetylcholinesterase activity were not affected by any fraction. During interpretation of the results, concentrations in the whole-body guillemot extracts were compared to concentrations reported in field studies. In general, concentrations in the guillemot extract were lower than those associated with biomarker responses in other wild-bird species. However, because the relative sensitivity of guillemot toward immunotoxic effects remains to be resolved, effects on the immunocompetence of guillemot could not be excluded.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2401-2411
    JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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