Effect of reduced food intake on toxicokinetics of halogenated organic contaminants in herring gull (Larus argentatus) chicks



The aim of the present study was to investigate how contaminant exposure and reduced food intake affect tissue distribution and biotransformation of halogenated organic contaminants (HOCs) in Arctic seabirds using herring gull (Larus argentatus) as a model species. Herring gull chicks were exposed for 44 d to cod liver oil containing a typical mixture of contaminants. Following exposure, food intake was reduced for a one-week period in a subgroup of the chicks. Polyclorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, and brominated flame retardants, as well as a wide range of hydroxy, methyl sulfone, and methoxy compounds were measured in liver, brain, and plasma samples. Additionally, phase I biotransformation enzyme activities and phase I and II messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression were investigated in the liver, brain, or both. Both contaminant exposure and reduced food intake had an increasing effect on the concentrations of HOCs and their metabolites. The HOC exposure and reduced food intake also led to increased 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylation (EROD) activity, whereas mRNA expression of the biotransformation enzymes increased only following the reduced food intake. Tissue distribution of HOCs and their metabolites was not affected by either contaminant exposure or reduced food intake. In conclusion, the results indicate that biotransformation capacity and formation of HOC metabolites increase during reduced food intake. This finding supports the hypothesis that reduced food intake increases the susceptibility of Arctic animals to the effects of lipophilic HOCs. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:156–164. © 2012 SETAC