Impact of Complex Contaminations

We investigated amoebocyte ROS production in natural populations of starfishes exposed to complex, multi-elemental contaminations in order to assess the general impact of contaminants on the immune function of

Fig. 6. Bacteria-stimulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (103 RLU/106 cells ml-1; mean ± SE, n=10) in starfishes collected from different stations in the North Sea. RLU Relative light units
Fig. 7. Bacteria-stimulated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (mean ± SE, n=10) in starfishes collected from different stations in the North Sea in function of the cadmium concentration in the sediments of these stations. RLU Relative light units

starfishes in the field. Starfishes were collected at different North Sea stations presenting a large range of metal and PCB contamination levels (Coteur et al. 2003b). Significant differences were found in ROS production of starfishes collected at the different stations. In particular, ROS production was significantly inhibited at the stations located off the Elbe/Weser estuaries (BW stations) and off the North Sea Canal (LN3) (Fig. 6).

Moreover, ROS production was negatively linked with the levels of metal contamination in the starfish tissues and in the sediments (Fig. 7). However, no link was found between the immune response and the non-coplanar PCB concentrations in the samples.

From this study it can be concluded that the contamination levels observed in field conditions are sufficient to induce immunomodulation in echino-derms and that this modulation is particularly linked with metal contamination of the environment.

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