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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1999 Sep;44(1):92-9.

Metabolic enzyme activities in fish gills as biomarkers of exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons.

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  • 1Department of Applied Biology and Biotechnology, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, City Campus, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001, Australia.


Metabolic effects of low-level exposure of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) to the water accommodated fraction (WAF) of crude oil and to dispersed crude oil were studied. Aerobic enzymes citrate synthase and cytochrome C oxidase, and anaerobic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase were measured in gills during a 4-day exposure to low concentrations of dispersed Bass Strait crude oil and WAF, and during the following 8 days of depuration in clean seawater. Relative to pre-exposure levels, citrate synthase and lactate dehydrogenase exhibited a significant inhibition of activity during exposure to the WAF of crude oil, and to dispersed crude oil, while activity of cytochrome C oxidase remained unchanged. Citrate synthase activities returned to preexposure levels after 4 days following termination of exposure for the WAF-exposed fish, and after 2 days for the dispersed-oil-exposed fish. After the termination of exposure to both treatments, lactate dehydrogenase activity remained low relative to levels measured prior to exposure, which indicated that the activity of this enzyme may be a sensitive medium to long-term biomarker of exposure to petroleum-contaminated water bodies.

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