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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2006 Jun;25(6):1541-50.

Dietary exposure of mink (Mustela vison) to fish from the Housatonic River, berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA: effects on organ weights and histology and hepatic concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-P-dioxin toxic equivalence.

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Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


The effects of feeding ranch mink (Mustela vison) diets containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated fish (88 gold fish [Carassius auratus] weighing a total of 70.3 kg and 16 carp [Cyprinus carpio] weighing a total of 77.3 kg) collected from the Housatonic River (HR; Berkshire County, MA, USA) in October 1999 on organ weights and histology and hepatic concentrations of total PCBs (sigmaPCBs) and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin toxic equivalence (TEQ) were evaluated. Diets contained 0.22 to 3.54% HR fish, which provided 0.34 to 3.7 microg sigmaPCBs/g feed (3.5-69 pg TEQ/g feed). Female mink were fed the diets eight weeks before breeding through weaning of kits at six weeks of age. Offspring were maintained on their respective diets for an additional 180 d. The dietary concentration of PCBs that caused a decrease in kit survival (3.7 microg EPCBs/g feed [69 pg TEQ/g]) resulted in a maternal hepatic concentration of 3.1 microg sigmaPCBs/g wet weight (218 pg TEQ/g). Organ weights were not consistently affected. Mandibular and maxillary squamous cell proliferation was apparent in 31-week-old juveniles exposed to as low as 0.96 microg sigmaPCBs/g feed (9.2 pg TEQ/g). Juveniles in this treatment group had a liver concentration of 1.7 microg sigmaPCBs/g wet weight (40 pg TEQ/g). Because inclusion of PCB-contaminated fish, which comprised approximately 1% of the diet, resulted in mandibular and maxillary squamous cell proliferation, it is possible that consumption of up to 30-fold that quantity of HR fish, as could be expected for wild mink, would result in more severe lesions characterized by loss of teeth, thus impacting survivability.

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