• biomonitoring;
  • cadmium;
  • hares;
  • lipid peroxidation;
  • metallothioneins, selenium


Cadmium occurs naturally in the environment and as an anthropogenic pollutant. Exposure to low concentrations of cadmium is inevitable and may produce toxic effects. Another important aspect of cadmium toxicity is its interaction, often antagonistic, with essential elements such as selenium. The aim of this study was to highlight the risks of long-term exposure to low cadmium concentrations, using a scientific and chemical approach and hares (Lepus europaeus Pallas) as model organisms in a field study. Two study areas were monitored. Levels of cadmium and selenium were quantified in the organs of hares, the expression of metallothioneins I + II and the products of lipid peroxidation were determined. The median cadmium concentrations (wet weight) in the muscle, liver, kidney and brain of hares from an exposed group ranged from 0.033 to 0.037, 0.763 to 1.054, 3.090 to 16.594 and 0.016 to 0.087µg g−1, respectively; whereas, the median selenium concentrations (wet weight) ranged from 0.100 to 0.108, 0.153 to 0.332, 0.677 to 0.701 and 0.078 to 0.116µg g−1, respectively. Expression of the metallothioneins I + II proteins was observed in tissues. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels, measured as malondialdehyde (MDA) equivalents, increased with the cadmium concentration. Further research on long-term exposure to low concentrations of cadmium in the environment is needed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.