PCBs and the energy cost of migration in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.)

V. van Ginneken, A.P. Palstra, P.E.G. Leonards, M. Nieveen, A.J. Murk

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61 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on the energy consumption of fasting silver European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) was studied over a 27-day period during which the animals were at rest or were swimming 800 km in Blazka swim tunnels. Three-year-old female hatchery eels (silver stage) between 73 and 80 cm long weighing around 1 kg were dosed intraperitoneally with PCBs at a nominal dosage of 10× the consumption standard as a mixture representative for planar (7 mug PCB126/kg eel), non-planar (5 mg PCB153/kg eel) and metabolizable PCBs (50 mug PCB77/kg eel) found in wild eel, or only with the vehicle (corn oil, 10 ml/kg eel). Four major observations were made: (1) PCB-exposed animals lose less weight compared to their unexposed controls; (2) PCB-concentrations on a lipid basis are 2.8-14 times higher in swimming compared to resting animals; (3) the standard metabolic rate is significantly lower in the PCB-exposed animals than in unexposed controls. In addition, PCB-exposure significantly reduces oxygen consumption during swimming, and starting at 400 km (18 days) this effect increases with time; (4) the relative spleen and liver weight significantly increased in the PCB-swim animals but not in the PCB-rest animals. The swimming animals lost about 75% more weight compared to resting animals and had about 50% lower plasma fat content. Hematocrit, haemoglobin, plasma pH, ion levels (sodium and potassium), and plasma lactate were not affected by PCB-exposure or swimming. Apparently, the current levels of PCBs and other dioxin-like compounds may seriously impair the reproduction of the European eel
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-220
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • polychlorinated-biphenyls
  • aromatic-hydrocarbons
  • sexual-maturation
  • silver eels
  • vitamin-a
  • exposure
  • metabolism
  • 3,3',4,4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl
  • netherlands
  • induction


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