, Volume 171, Issue 7, pp 585-594

Branchial versus intestinal silver toxicity and uptake in the marine teleost Parophrys vetulus

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Exposure to elevated waterborne silver as AgNO3 (4.07 µM=448 µg l–1) in seawater resulted in osmoregulatory disturbance in the lemon sole (Parophrys vetulus). The main effects were increased plasma Na+ and Cl concentrations which translated into increased plasma osmolality. Plasma Mg2+ levels were also slightly increased after 96 h exposure. Using radio-isotopic flux measurements, a 50% reduction in branchial unidirectional Na+ extrusion was observed after 48 h silver exposure. By applying an intestinal perfusion approach, we were able to separate and thus quantify the intestinal contribution to the observed silver-induced physiological disturbance and internal silver accumulation. This analysis revealed that the intestinal contribution to silver-induced ionoregulatory toxicity was as high as 50–60%. In marked contrast, internal silver accumulation (in liver and kidney) was found to be derived exclusively from uptake across the gills. Drinking of silver-contaminated seawater resulted in substantial silver accumulation in the intestinal tissue (but apparently not silver uptake across the intestine), which probably explains the intestinal contribution to silver-induced physiological disturbance.