Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Aquat Toxicol. 2013 Oct 15;142-143:317-28. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.08.004. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Vitamin A and E profiles as biomarkers of PCB exposure in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the western Canadian Arctic.

Author information

University of Victoria, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC, Canada V8P 5C2; Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Road, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 4B2.


We evaluated the utility of vitamin A and E profiles as biomarkers of contaminant exposure in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas; n=66) harvested by the Inuvialuit in the Beaufort Sea. Blubber was an important repository for these vitamins, accounting for 76.8±2.6% of the total body store of vitamin A, and 98.5±0.4% of total vitamin E. While the free alcohol form of vitamin A (retinol) appeared highly regulated, the vitamin A esters were influenced by several biological factors including age, body condition and length. Vitamin E concentrations in liver and blubber were related to age, condition, length and feeding ecology, as described δ(15)N and δ(13)C. Despite the influence of these factors, collective results from univariate statistics, best fit multiple regressions, and principal component analysis (PCA) identified polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as important determinants of vitamin concentrations and profiles in beluga tissues. Blubber PCB concentrations best explained variation of the first principal component in a PCA of hepatic vitamins (r(2)=0.13, p=0.014), and regression models found that vitamin A concentrations were negatively correlated with PCB levels in liver (esters: r(2)=0.19, p=0.001), but positively in plasma (retinol: r(2)=0.20, p=0.06) and blubber (retinol: r(2)=0.22, p=0.001, esters: r(2)=0.43, p<0.001). Our analyses provide a basis to propose an integrated toxicity reference value for disruption of vitamin A and E profiles in beluga of 1.6 mg/kg lw PCBs. This disruption of vitamin profiles by moderate levels of PCBs in an arctic cetacean highlights the global reach and impact of these legacy chemicals decades after their peak use.


Arctic; Beluga whale; Biomarker; Persistent organic pollutant; Vitamin A; Vitamin E

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center