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Mar Pollut Bull. 2004 Oct;49(7-8):574-87.

Concentration and subcellular distribution of trace elements in liver of small cetaceans incidentally caught along the Brazilian coast.

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Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, Bunkyo-cho 2-5, Matsuyama 790-8577, Japan.


Concentrations of trace elements (V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, Ga, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sb, Cs, Ba, T-Hg, Org-Hg, Tl and Pb) were determined in liver samples of estuarine dolphin (Sotalia guianensis; n = 20), Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei; n = 23), Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis; n = 2), common dolphin (Delphinus capensis; n = 1) and striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba; n = 1) incidentally caught along the coast of Sao Paulo State and Parana State, Brazil, from 1997 to 1999. The hepatic concentrations of trace elements in the Brazilian cetaceans were comparable to the data available in literature on marine mammals from Northern Hemisphere. Concentrations of V, Se, Mo, Cd, T-Hg and Org-Hg increased with increasing age in liver of both estuarine and Franciscana dolphins. Very high concentrations of Cu (range, 262-1970 microg/g dry wt.) and Zn (range, 242-369 microg/g dry wt.) were observed in liver of sucklings of estuarine dolphin. Hepatic concentrations of V, Se, T-Hg, Org-Hg and Pb were significantly higher in estuarine dolphin, whereas Franciscana dolphin showed higher concentrations of Mn, Co, As and Rb. Ratio of Org-Hg to T-Hg in liver was significantly higher in Franciscana dolphin than estuarine dolphin, suggesting that demethylation ability of methyl Hg might be lower in liver of Franciscana than estuarine dolphins. High hepatic concentrations of Ag were found in some specimens of Franciscana dolphin (maximum, 20 microg/g dry wt.), and 17% of Franciscana showed higher concentrations of Ag than Hg. These samples with high Ag concentration also exhibited elevated hepatic Se concentration, implying that Ag might be detoxified by Se in the liver. Higher correlation coefficient between (Hg+0.5 Ag) and Se than between Hg and Se and the large distribution of Ag in non-soluble fraction in nuclear and mitochondrial fraction of the liver also suggests that Ag might be detoxified by Se via formation of Ag2Se in the liver of Franciscana dolphin.

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