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Int J Environ Health Res. 2003 Jun;13(2):125-48.

Role of environmental pollutants on immune functions, parasitic infections and limb malformations in marine toads and whistling frogs from Bermuda.

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Department of Biology, Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, VA 24382, USA.


Soil, water, and amphibian tissues collected between 1995 and 1999 from 15 study sites in Bermuda were analysed for pesticides and heavy metals. The most abundant pesticide residue in soil was p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) which was found at all sites in concentrations ranging from 0.003 to 4.023 p.p.m. No pesticide residues were found in water. DDE was also recovered from the livers and fat bodies of marine toads (Bufo marinus) and whistling frogs (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei). Analyses of food sources consumed by these anuran species revealed residue levels of p, p'-DDE ranging from 0.05 to 0.217 p.p.m. Other soil residues included dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) at eight study sites, Dicofol(kelthane) at eight sites, dieldrin at five sites, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as Arochlor 1254 and Arochlor 1260 at seven sites. Analyses of toad livers revealed significant concentrations of cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc. Livers of Bermuda toads exhibited altered hepatocytic morphology and an increased number of melanomacrophages and possible granulomas, while spleens showed a marked decrease in white pulp. Spleen cells from Bufo marinus collected at one site having high levels of cadmium exhibited a decreased B cell response to lipopolysaccharide. The incidence of trematode infection in Bufo marinus increased from 53.8% in 1995 to 90% in 1999. Deformity rates in the limbs of subadult and adult toads ranged between 15 and 25%. Examination of 1,995 newly-metamorphosed toads revealed deformity rates as high as 47%. The current comprehensive study suggests that environmental pollutants may account for immunosuppression, increased susceptibility to infections, limb malformations and possible decline in amphibian populations from Bermuda.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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