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Sci Total Environ. 2010 Nov 1;408(23):5808-16. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.08.019. Epub 2010 Sep 17.

Mercury contamination in spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus: an assessment of liver, kidney, blood, and nervous system health.

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  • 1Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 1220 Prospect Ave., No. 285, Melbourne, FL 32901, USA. Doug.Adams@MyFWC.com


Marine fishes in South Florida (Florida Keys-Florida Bay-Everglades region) accumulate higher concentrations of mercury (Hg) in their tissues than similar fishes from other areas of the southeastern U.S., though it is not known whether these elevated levels affect fish health. In this study, we used quantifiable pathological and biochemical indicators to explore Hg-associated differences in marine fish from South Florida, where Hg contamination is high, and from Indian River Lagoon, Florida, which served as a reference area. Hg concentrations in all tissues of mature spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) from South Florida were significantly higher than those from Indian River Lagoon and were within the threshold range of those in studies where effects of Hg exposure have been observed. The distribution of Hg among tissues followed the same trend in both areas, with the greatest concentration in kidney tissue, followed by liver, muscle, brain, gonad, and red blood cells. Blood-plasma biochemistry showed that concentrations of iron, inorganic phosphate, lactate dehydrogenase, and aspartate aminotransferase were significantly less in South Florida. Also, fructosamine and alkaline phosphatase were significantly less in South Florida. Liver histology revealed that pyknosis/necrosis, interstitial inflammation, and bile duct hyperplasia were found only in seatrout from South Florida, and steatosis/glycogen was more frequently found in Indian River Lagoon specimens. In renal tissue, interstitial inflammation, glomerular dilatation and thickening, and tubular degeneration and necrosis were more frequently found in South Florida specimens. Changes in the liver cytoskeleton and morphology may explain some of the differences in blood parameters between study areas. Neurochemical analyses showed that brain N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors (but not those of muscarinic cholinergic receptors, monoamine oxidase, or acetylcholinesterase) were significantly less in fish from South Florida than from Indian River Lagoon. These findings provide compelling evidence that elevated Hg could cause quantifiable pathological and biochemical changes that might influence the health of spotted seatrout and could also affect other marine fish species.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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