The influence of diet on polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) assimilation was investigated by measuring dietary assimilation efficiencies (AEs) for 47 PCB congeners in juvenile koi (Cyprinus carpio) fed five experimental diets. Two of the diets were naturally contaminated and were obtained by collecting mayflies from Lake Erie (ON, Canada) and emerald shiners from the Detroit River (MI, USA). The remaining diets consisted of commercial fish pellets (lipid contents from 6.7 to 24%) that were contaminated by spiking with a PCB mixture. Experimental fish were held individually to quantify the amount of food consumed per fish and, following a 48-h fasting period to facilitate food digestion and assimilation; AEs were determined by mass balance. Fish fed the benthic invertebrate food exhibited the highest PCB AEs (70–101%) and were significantly elevated compared to the other diet treatments (AEs ranging from 23 to 87%). The PCB AEs for fish fed emerald shiners did not differ from those fed pellet formulations. Variation among PCB AEs was not related to diet lipid content. For all diet treatments, PCB AEs were significantly related to chemical hydrophobicity. The relationship between chemical AE and n-octanol/water partition coefficient (KOW) was best explained by a linear model compared to a two-phase resistance model. Overall, PCB AEs were observed to be dependent on both diet type and chemical hydrophobicity, with both factors contributing nearly equally to the variation measured in this toxicokinetic parameter. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:401–409. © 2009 SETAC
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