Utility of the TBARS assay in detecting oxidative stress in white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) populations exposed to pulp mill effluent
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Recent evidence indicates that contaminant-stimulated free radical production and resulting oxidative damage may be an important mechanism of toxicity in organisms exposed to water-borne contaminants. This study tested the hypothesis that increases in oxidative stress and associated biochemical alterations would be present in white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) living in an environment receiving pulp mill effluent. Consistent increases in liver TBARS and frequent increases in gonadal TBARS were observed immediately downstream of the pulp mill effluent discharge; observable effects were attenuated with distance until they were not significantly different from reference values. Increases detected with the TBARS assay were commensurate with increases detected using the lipid hydroperoxides assay, a mechanistically independent technique. Fish exposed to pulp mill effluent also exhibited significant increases in hepatic free iron and ascorbic acid and a reduced free radical scavenging capacity in the livers of fish downstream of the effluent discharge relative to reference fish. Increases in oxidative stress are not necessarily dependent on increases in lipid substrate or related to reductions in ascorbic acid. TBARS values similar to those observed in fish resident below pulp mill effluent discharges were observed in white sucker 2 h after intraperitoneal injection using 15 mg/kg body weight ferric nitrilotriacetate (Fe(3+) NTA) as a positive control. This study indicates oxidative stress could be a mechanism of toxicity in fish exposed to pulp mill effluent and demonstrates the utility of TBARS in delineating zones of exposure to pulp mill effluent.
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