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Toxicology. 1993 Oct 25;83(1-3):169-79.

A review of the relationship between acute toxicity (LC50) of gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (gamma-HCH, Lindane) and total lipid content of different fish species.

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Institut für Okologische Chemie, GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, Neuherberg, Germany.


This paper provides an explanation for a 40-fold difference in the acute toxicity (LC50) of gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (gamma-HCH, Lindane) in 14 different fish species, based on well recognized principles of toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics in combination with a compilation of data from the literature and some original data. The 48-h median lethal concentration (48-h LC50) of gamma-HCH in 14 fish species, belonging to 6 families, range from 22 to 900 micrograms/l. A significant positive linear relationship was found between lipid content (% of wet weight) and the 48-h LC50 of gamma-HCH in these fish species, revealing that the toxicity of gamma-HCH in various fish species is decreasing with increasing total lipid content. If median lethal concentrations are normalized for 1% lipid content, then the range of 48-h LC50s is reduced to between 18 and 32 micrograms/l. It is concluded that lipids of aquatic organisms can serve (among other functions) as a protective storage site against the toxic effects of gamma-HCH and, possibly, of other lipophilic, persistent organic chemicals which are bioconcentrated in body lipids. Therefore, in organisms with higher lipid content, a smaller fraction of a lipophilic chemical will reach target organs (liver, lung, central and peripheral nerves, etc.) to cause adverse effects. Results suggest that this correlation can be used to extrapolate the acute toxicity (48-h LC50) of gamma-HCH to other fish species if their lipid content is known. Furthermore, the data generated by extrapolation of this correlation could be useful in the environmental risk assessment of freshwater and marine organisms.

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