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Aquat Toxicol. 2013 Sep 15;140-141:295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.06.010. Epub 2013 Jun 22.

Effects of cadmium on olfactory mediated behaviors and molecular biomarkers in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch).

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105-6099, United States.


The olfactory system of salmonids is sensitive to the adverse effects of metals such as copper and cadmium. In the current study, we analyzed olfactory-mediated alarm responses, epithelial injury and recovery, and a suite of olfactory molecular biomarkers encoding genes critical in maintaining olfactory function in juvenile coho salmon receiving acute exposures to cadmium (Cd). The molecular biomarkers analyzed included four G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) representing the two major classes of odorant receptors (salmon olfactory receptor sorb and vomeronasal receptors svra, svrb, and gpr27), as well as markers of neurite outgrowth (nrn1) and antioxidant responses to metals, including heme oxygenase 1 (hmox1), and peroxiredoxin 1 (prdx1). Coho received acute (8-168 h) exposures to 3.7 ppb and 347 ppb Cd, and a subset of fish was analyzed following a 16-day depuration. Coho exposed to 347 ppb Cd over 48 h exhibited a reduction in freeze responses, and an extensive loss of olfaction accompanied by histological injury to the olfactory epithelium. The olfactory injury in coho exposed to 347 ppb Cd was accompanied at the gene level by significant decreases in expression of the olfactory GPCRs and increased expression of hmox1. Persistent behavioral deficits, histological injury and altered expression of a subset of olfactory biomarkers were still evident in Cd-exposed coho following a 16-day depuration in clean water. Exposure to 3.7 ppb Cd also resulted in reduced freeze responses and histological changes to the olfactory epithelium within 48 h of Cd exposure, although the extent of olfactory injury was less severe than observed for fish in the high dose Cd group. Furthermore adverse behavioral effects were present in some coho receiving the low dose of Cd following a 16-day depuration. In summary, acute exposures to environmental levels of Cd can cause olfactory injury in coho salmon that may persist following depuration. Mechanism-based biomarkers of oxidative stress and olfactory structures can augment the evaluation of olfactory injury manifested at the physiological level.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Alarm response; Biomarkers; Cadmium; Coho salmon; G-protein coupled receptors; Olfaction; Oxidative stress

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