Applying quantitative and semi-quantitative histopathology to address the interaction between sediment-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish gills

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Abstract

Even though PAHs are considered priority marine pollutants, information on the interaction effects between these compounds is scarce, furthermore under ecologically-relevant circumstances. Semi-quantitative and quantitative histological analyses were enforced on the gills of the seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), exposed to two model PAHs, single or combined, through a series of 28-day laboratory bioassays. Fish exposed to sediments contaminated with either PAH (250-800ngg-1), isolated or combined, exhibited most significant gill histopathological alterations after 28 days of exposure, as determined through weighted condition indices, especially in animals exposed to the potential carcinogen benzo[b]fluoranthene (B[b]F) and to mixtures of this compound with its lower, non-carcinogenic counterpart Phenanthrene (Phe). Negative correlations between interlamellar hyperplasia (the most remarkable alteration) and goblet cell counts suggest that fish exposed to sediments contaminated with B[b]F or mixed PAHs increased the thickness of epithelial cells as a response to insult, albeit compromising cell differentiation, to which is likely added impaired gas exchange and osmotic balance. In contrast, animals exposed to Phe increased the number of chloride and goblet cells relatively to control fish at early stages of exposure, suggesting then a more efficient protective mechanism. The results also showed that histopathological alterations in mixture-exposed animals do not match the expected additive effects. Overall, the findings indicate that chronic exposures to sediment-bound PAHs, under realistic scenarios, may induce lesions in gills that may imply significant hindering of basal metabolic/homeostatic pathways in marine fish whose interpretation may be hindered by complicated interaction effects and unknown factor involving, more that dose-response, time-dependent effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-171
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Volume131
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Benzo[b]fluoranthene
  • Dicentrarchus labrax
  • Goblet cells
  • Histopathological indices
  • Hyperplasia
  • Phenanthrene

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