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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014 May;21(10):6324-33. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1611-3. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Seasonal influences on PCB retention and biotransformation in fish.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32605, USA,


There is extensive evidence that fish from waters with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)-contaminated sediments accumulate PCBs and related chemicals and that people who eat fish from contaminated waters have higher body burdens of PCBs and PCB metabolites than those who do not. PCBs and their metabolites are potentially toxic; thus, it is important to human health to understand the uptake, biotransformation, and elimination of PCBs in fish since these processes determine the extent of accumulation. The intestinal uptake of PCBs present in the diet of fish into fish tissues is a process that is influenced by the lipid composition of the diet. Biotransformation of PCBs in fish, as in mammals, facilitates elimination, although many PCB congeners are recalcitrant to biotransformation in fish and mammals. Sequential biotransformation of PCBs by cytochrome P450 and conjugation pathways is even less efficient in fish than in mammalian species, thus contributing to the retention of PCBs in fish tissues. A very important factor influencing overall PCB disposition in fish is water temperature. Seasonal changes in water temperature produce adaptive physiological and biochemical changes in fish. While uptake of PCBs from the diet is similar in fish acclimated to winter or summer temperatures, there is evidence that elimination of PCBs occurs much more slowly when the fish is acclimated at low temperatures than at warmer temperatures. Research to date suggests that the processes of elimination of PCBs are modulated by several factors in fish including seasonal changes in water temperature. Thus, the body burden of PCBs in fish from a contaminated location is likely to vary with season.

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