Assessing aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in Antarctic fish captured near palmer and McMurdo Stations, Antarctica

S. J. McDonald, M. C. Kennicutt, H. Liu, S. H. Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Since little is known about the effects of contaminants on Antarctic organisms, the effects of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) on Antarctic fish were evaluated. Fish captured near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula exhibited induced ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activities and elevated concentrations of biliary PAH metabolites compared to fish from control sites. Naphthalene and phenanthrene PAH metabolite levels were significantly higher in the bile of fish captured near McMurdo Station than in fish from remote sites in McMurdo Sound. Laboratory experiments were conducted in which Notothenia gibberifrons were treated with benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and diesel fuel Arctic (DFA). Although DFA is composed primarily of 2- and 3-ring PAH which are not known to be potent CYPIA inducers, the maximal hepatic EROD activity of DFA-treated fish was approximately 80% of that observed in BaP-treated fish. Additionally, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin toxic equivalents (TEQs) were determined for hepatic extracts of laboratory-dosed and field-captured fish using rat hepatoma H4IIE cell bioassays. The TEQ values of H4IIE cells dosed with hepatic extracts of DFA-treated fish correlated more closely with hepatic concentrations of 3-ring and >3-ring PAH than with 2-ring and ΣPAH concentrations. However, bioassay-derived TEQs were higher than expected based on the measured levels of ≥3-ring PAH in the hepatic extracts of DFA-treated fish. The TEQs for hepatic tissue extracts of BaP-treated fish paralleled tissue concentrations of PAH. The TEQs for field captured fish were significantly lower than those derived from dosed fish extracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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