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Aquat Toxicol. 2020 Jan 25;221:105421. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2020.105421. [Epub ahead of print]

Environmental exposure of northern pike to a primary wastewater effluent: Impact on the lipidomic profile and lipid metabolism.

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Centre de recherche en toxicologie de l'environnement (TOXEN), Département des sciences biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montreal, QC, H3C 3P8, Canada.
Environment and Climate Change Canada, 105 McGill Street, Montreal, QC, H2Y 2E7, Canada. Electronic address:


Lipids play important roles in growth, reproduction, locomotion, and migration of fish. Municipal effluents, which are complex mixtures of biological and chemical compounds including flame retardants, have been shown to alter lipid metabletabolism in environmentally and experimentally exposed fish. Down-regulation of several genes coding for fatty acid metabolism enzymes has previously been reported in male northern pike (Esox lucius) collected in the St. Lawrence River (QC, Canada) downstream of a major primary wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) point of discharge. The main objective of this study was to investigate the effects of exposure to the Montreal's WWTP effluent on the lipidomic profile (i.e., fatty acids, acylcarnitines, and phospholipids) as well as the transcription of genes related to lipid metabolism in the liver of northern pike collected upstream and downstream of this WWTP effluent. Halogenated flame retardant concentrations were also determined in pike liver and used as markers of exposure to this effluent. Greater concentrations of saturated and monounsaturated lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs) and lower concentrations of polyunsaturated LPCs were determined in the liver of pike collected downstream of the WWTP compared to those collected upstream. Lower mRNA levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (pparα), a major regulator of lipid metabolism, were also measured in pike exposed to Montreal's WWTP effluent. In addition, the relative contributions (%) of LPC 18:2 and LPC14:0, compounds used as markers of obesity and inflammation, were significantly correlated with halogenated flame retardant concentrations and fish girth. Results of the present study suggest that chronic environmental exposure to a primary WWTP effluent can modulate the transcription of genes related to lipid metabolism, and hence affect the hepatic phospholipid composition of pike from the St. Lawrence River.


Fish; Gene transcription; Halogenated flame retardants; Lipids; Metabolomics

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Competing Interest The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

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