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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2007 Jun;4(2):158-65.

Biomarkers of oxidative stress and heavy metal levels as indicators of environmental pollution in African cat fish (Clarias gariepinus) from Nigeria Ogun River.

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Drug Metabolism and Toxicology Research Laboratories, Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


Levels of Zn, Cu, Cd, As, and Pb in the kidney, Liver, Gills and Heart of African cat fish (Clarias gariepinus) from the Ogun River in Ogun State located close to six major industries in the South Western part of Nigeria, were determined using Bulk Scientific Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Fishes were also collected from Government owned fish farm in Agodi, Ibadan which was considered a reference site. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione S-transferase (GST), glutathione (GSH) concentration and malondialdehyde (MDA) formation were also determined. The trend of accumulation of the metals in the organs is as follows: Heart - Zn > Cu > Pb > As > Cd; Gills - Zn > Cu > Pb > Cd > As; Kidney - Zn > Cu > Pb > As > Cd; Liver - Zn > Cu > Pb > As > Cd. The order of concentration of the metals in the organs is as follows: Arsenite - Kidney > Liver > Gills > Heart; Zinc - Gills > Liver > Kidney > Heart; Lead- Liver > Kidney > Gills > Heart; Copper- Kidney > Liver > Gills > Heart; Cadmium > Liver > Gills > Kidney > Heart. The levels of heavy metals ranged between 0.25- 8.96 ppm in the heart, 0.69- 19.05 ppm in the kidneys, 2.10-19.75 ppm in the liver and 1.95-20.35 ppm in the gills. SOD activity increased by 61% in the liver, 50% in the kidney and in the heart by 28 % while a significant decrease (44%) was observed in the gill of Clarias gariepinus from Ogun river compared to that Agodi fish farm (P<0.001). On the contrary there was 46%, 41%, 50% and 19% decrease in CAT activity in the liver, kidney, gills and heart respectively. The levels of GST activities in the liver, kidney and heart of Clarias gariepinus from Ogun river increased by 62%, 72% and 37% respectively (P<0.001) whereas there was a significant decrease (41%) in the gills (P<0.05) compared to that from the Agodi fish farm. GSH concentration increased by 81%, 83% and 53% in the liver, kidney and heart respectively but decreased by 44% in the gills. MDA levels of Clarias gariepinus were significantly (P<0.001) elevated in the liver, kidney, gills and heart by 177%, 102%, 168% and 71% respectively compared to that from Agodi fish farm. Overall, the results demonstrate that alteration in the antioxidant enzymes, glutathione system and induction of lipid peroxidation reflects the presence of heavy metals which may cause oxidative stress in the Clarias gariepinus from Ogun River. The study therefore provides a rational use of biomarkers of oxidative stress in biomonitoring of aquatic pollution.

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