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Aquat Toxicol. 2007 Oct 15;84(3):366-78. Epub 2007 Jul 1.

PCBs can diminish the influence of temperature on thyroid indices in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

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Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont., Canada.


The influence of PCBs on the thyroid status of rainbow trout was assessed at various temperatures to identify if PCB mixtures, as well OH-PCBs produced via biotransformation of parent PCBs, can illicit thyroid effects in fish. Juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) held at 8, 12 or 16 degrees C were exposed to dietary concentrations of an environmentally relevant mixture of PCBs for 30 days followed by a depuration phase. Two additional treatments at 12 degrees C included higher concentrations of PCBs (congeners 77, 126 and 169) known to induce CYP1A in fish (referred to as CYP1A treatment) and PCBs (congeners 87, 99, 101, 153, 180, 183 and 194) known to induce CYP2B in mammals (referred to as CYP2 treatment), to assess the influence of more biologically relevant PCB congeners on thyroid indices in fish. Growth rate and liver somatic index varied with water temperature (p<0.05) but did not differ between PCB exposed and control fish (p>0.05) and mortality was low in all treatments. Changes in some measures of thyroid status were apparent in PCB-exposed fish held in the 12 and 16 degrees C treatments while other measures showed no change in any treatment. The natural inverse relationship between thyroid epithelial cell height (TECH) and temperature, was diminished after 30 days of exposure to PCBs as the epithelial cell height in PCB-exposed fish was significantly augmented in the 12 and 16 degrees C treatments compared to controls at these temperatures (p<0.05). However, after 20 days of depuration, TECH values in the PCB exposed fish returned to control values. The natural linear gradient between T(4) outer-ring deiodinase activity (ORD) and temperature was also diminished after 30 days of exposure to PCBs. PCB-exposed fish from the 16 degrees C treatment had significantly lower deiodinase activities (p<0.05) compared to controls at this temperature, but deiodinase activities returned to normal by day 20 of depuration. No differences were observed in T(3) inner-ring deiodinase (IRD) activities and plasma concentrations of T(3) and T(4) in any of the treatments (p>0.05). EROD activity in fish from the CYP1A and CYP2 treatments were elevated compared to control and high dose PCB-exposed treatments (p<0.05), but the inclusion of CYP inducing congeners did not appear to influence any index of thyroid status. Results of this study suggest that exposure of rainbow trout to high concentrations of PCBs and/or OH-PCBs may alter some indices of thyroid status when water temperatures are high, but these changes are within the compensatory scope of the thyroid system based on no change in circulating hormone concentrations, growth rates or mortality.

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