Toxicologic pathology

Polychlorinated biphenyl exposure causes gonadal atrophy and oxidative stress in Corbicula fluminea clams.

PMID 17455083


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are widespread environmental contaminants that have been linked to oxidative and other toxic effects in both humans and wildlife. Due to recent environmental health concerns at a PCB contaminated Superfund site near Raleigh, NC, we used a common clam species (Corbicula fluminea) as surrogates to isolate the effects of PCBs on threatened bivalves native to the region. Under controlled laboratory conditions, clams were exposed to 0, 1, 10, or 100 ppb Aroclor 1260 in the ambient water for 21 days. Measured biomarkers spanned a range of effective levels of biological organization including low molecular weight antioxidants, lipid-soluble antioxidants, and whole tissue radical absorption capacity. These data were augmented by use of histological evaluation of whole samples. Aroclor 1260 significantly increased reduced glutathione (GSH) and total protein concentrations at all treatments levels. Significant decreases were measured in all treatments in gamma -tocopherol and total oxidant scavenging capacity (TOSC) and alpha -tocopherol values in the 100 ppb exposure. Histologically, Aroclor 1260 caused significant gonadal atrophy, effacement of gonad architecture with accumulations of Brown cells, and inflammation and necrosis in digestive glands and foot processes. Our results indicate that oxidative mechanisms play a significant role in the decreased health of these clams due to exposure to Aroclor 1260. The changes in the gonads of exposed clams suggest that a serious threat to bivalve reproduction exists due to PCB exposure.