Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Short-term acute hypercapnia affects cellular responses to trace metals in the hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria.

PMID 23796537


Estuarine and coastal habitats experience large fluctuations of environmental factors such as temperature, salinity, partial pressure of CO2 ( [Formula: see text] ) and pH; they also serve as the natural sinks for trace metals. Benthic filter-feeding organisms such as bivalves are exposed to the elevated concentrations of metals in estuarine water and sediments that can strongly affect their physiology. The effects of metals on estuarine organisms may be exacerbated by other environmental factors. Thus, a decrease in pH caused by high [Formula: see text] (hypercapnia) can modulate the effects of trace metals by affecting metal bioavailability, accumulation or binding. To better understand the cellular mechanisms of interactions between [Formula: see text] and trace metals in marine bivalves, we exposed isolated mantle cells of the hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) to different levels of [Formula: see text] (0.05, 1.52 and 3.01 kPa) and two major trace metal pollutants - cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu). Elevated [Formula: see text] resulted in a decrease in intracellular pH (pHi) of the isolated mantle cells from 7.8 to 7.4. Elevated [Formula: see text] significantly but differently affected the trace metal accumulation by the cells. Cd uptake was suppressed at elevated [Formula: see text] levels while Cu accumulation has greatly accelerated under hypercapnic conditions. Interestingly, at higher extracellular Cd levels, labile intracellular Cd(2+) concentration remained the same, while intracellular levels of free Zn(2+) increased suggesting that Cd(2+) substitutes bound Zn(2+) in these cells. In contrast, Cu exposure did not affect intracellular Zn(2+) but led to a profound increase in the intracellular levels of labile Cu(2+) and Fe(2+). An increase in the extracellular concentrations of Cd and Cu led to the elevated production of reactive oxygen species under the normocapnic conditions (0.05 kPa [Formula: see text] ); surprisingly, this effect was mitigated in hypercapnia (1.52 and 3.01 kPa). Overall, our data reveal complex and metal-specific interactions between the cellular effects of trace metals and [Formula: see text] in clams and indicate that variations in environmental [Formula: see text] may modulate the biological effects of trace metals in marine organisms.