An “ex vivo” model to evaluate toxicological responses to mixtures of contaminants in cetaceans: Integumentum biopsy slices

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Abstract

The need for powerful new tools to detect the effects of chemical pollution, in particular of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on Mediterranean cetaceans led us to develop and apply a suite of sensitive biomarkers for integument biopsies of stranded and free-ranging animals. This multi-response ex vivo method has the aim to detect toxicological effects of contaminant mixtures. In the present study, we applied an ex vivo assay using skin biopsy and liver slices, combining molecular biomarkers [Western blot of Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) and Cytochrome P450 2B (CYP2B)] and gene expression biomarkers (Quantitative real-time PCR of CYP1A1, heat shock protein 70, estrogen receptor alpha and E2F transcription factor) in response to chemical exposure [organochlorines compounds (OCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and PAHs] for stranded Mediterranean Stenella coeruleoalba. The main goal of this experiment was to identify the biomarker and/or a suite of biomarkers that could best detect the presence of a specific class of pollutants (OCs, PBDEs, and PAHs) or a mixture of them. This multi-response biomarker methodology revealed an high sensitivity and selectivity of responses (such as CYP1A and ER α mRNA variations after OCs and PAHs exposure) and could represent a valid future approach for the study of inter- and intra-species sensitivities to various classes of environmental contaminants. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 1107–1121, 2014.

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