Mixed-Function Oxygenases, Oxidative Stress, and Chromosomal Damage Measured in Lesser Scaup Wintering on the Indiana Harbor Canal

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Abstract.

During the winter of 1993–1994, male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) were collected on the heavily polluted Indiana Harbor Canal, East Chicago, Indiana, and examined for several bioindicators of chemical exposure. Livers were analyzed for activities of three cytochrome P450–associated monooxygenases and four measures of oxidative stress. Blood and spleen were analyzed by flow cytometry for chromosomal damage. In a concurrent study, scaup tissues were analyzed for organic and inorganic contaminants. Ethoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase (EROD) activity in livers of scaup collected in January 1994 was significantly higher than in livers of scaup collected in March 1994 or in livers of reference birds. Three hepatic monooxygenase activities were each significantly correlated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in scaup carcasses. Thiobarbituric acid (TBA) activity in scaup livers was positively correlated with iron, boron, and lead concentrations in livers and polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in carcasses. TBA activity was negatively correlated with protein-bound thiol activity and mercury concentrations in livers. The coefficient of variation of DNA content in scaup blood cells was correlated with PAH concentrations in scaup carcasses. This is the first field study with birds to demonstrate a correlation between liver monooxygenase activity and carcass PAH concentrations and to show a direct correlation between PAH concentrations in tissues and somatic chromosomal damage in blood.