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Environ Int. 2008 Nov;34(8):1176-84. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

A bioassay approach to determine the dioxin-like activity in sediment extracts from the Danube River: ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase induction in gill filaments and liver of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.).

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Department of Environmental Toxicology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Sediment samples from the upper Danube River in Germany have previously been characterized as ecotoxicologically hazardous and contaminants in these sediments may contribute to the observed decline of fish populations in this river section. For the investigation of sediment toxicity there is a need for development, standardization and implementation of in vivo test systems using vertebrates. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to apply and evaluate a recently established fish gill EROD assay as a biomarker in sediment toxicity assessment by using extracts of well characterised sediment samples from the upper Danube River. This to our knowledge is the first application of this novel assay to sediment extracts. Sediments from four different sites along the upper Danube River were Soxhlet-extracted with acetone and dissolved in DMSO. Three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) were exposed for 48 h to various concentrations of the extracts, to the positive control beta-naphthoflavone or to the solvent. Measurements of EROD activity in gill filaments and liver microsomes followed the exposure. Concentration-dependent induction of EROD in both gill and liver was found for all sediment extracts. The highest EROD-inducing potency was determined for extracts of sediments from the sites "Opfinger See" and "Sigmaringen" and the EROD activities in gill and liver correlated well. The results from the gill and liver assays were in accordance with in vitro results of previous investigations. The EROD activities measured in the present study corresponded with the concentrations of PAHs, PCBs and PCDD/Fs in the sediment samples derived in a previous study. The sticklebacks in this study were in the reproductive phase and a stronger EROD induction was obtained in the females than in the males. Implementation of the EROD assay in testing of sediment extracts gave highly reliable results which make this assay an ecotoxicologically relevant method for assessment of contamination with Ah receptor agonists in sediments.

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