Biomarkers signal contaminant effects on the organs of English sole (Parophrys vetulus) from Puget Sound. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Fish living in contaminated environments accumulate toxic chemicals in their tissues. Biomarkers are needed to identify the resulting health effects, particularly focusing on early changes at a subcellular level. We used a suite of complementary biomarkers to signal contaminant-induced changes in the DNA structure and cellular physiology of the livers and gills of English sole (Parophrys vetulus) . These sediment-dwelling fish were obtained from the industrialized lower Duwamish River (DR) in Seattle, Washington, and from Quartermaster Harbor (QMH) , a relatively clean reference site in south Puget Sound. Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) , and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) identified potentially deleterious alterations in the DNA structure of the DR fish livers and gills, compared with the QMH fish. Expression of CYP1A (a member of the cytochrome P450 multigene family of enzymes) signaled changes in the liver associated with the oxidation of organic xenobiotics, as previously found with the gill. The FT-IR models demonstrated that the liver DNA of the DR fish had a unique structure likely arising from exposure to environmental chemicals. Analysis by LC/MS and GC/MS showed higher concentrations of DNA base lesions in the liver DNA of the DR fish, suggesting that these base modifications contributed to this discrete DNA structure. A comparable analysis by LC/MS and GC/MS of base modifications provided similar results with the gill. The biomarkers described are highly promising for identifying contaminant-induced stresses in fish populations from polluted and reference sites and, in addition, for monitoring the progress of remedial actions.

publication date

  • June 2006