Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) reduce hepatic β-oxidation of fatty acids in chick embryos
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- Westman, O., Nordén, M., Larsson, M. et al. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2013) 20: 1881. doi:10.1007/s11356-012-1418-7
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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widespread fused-ring contaminants formed during incomplete combustion of almost all kind of organic materials from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Some PAHs have been shown to be carcinogenic to humans, and a wide range of PAHs are found in wildlife all around the globe including avian species. The purpose of this project was to assess the effects of a standard mixture of 16 PAHs (United States Environmental Protection Agency) on the hepatic fatty acid β-oxidation in chicken embryos (Gallus gallus domesticus) exposed in ovo. The hepatic β-oxidation was measured using a tritium release assay with [9,10-3H]-palmitic acid (16:0) as substrate. Treated groups were divided into groups of 0.05, 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.8 mg PAHs/kg egg weight. The hepatic β-oxidation was reduced after exposure in ovo to the 16 PAHs mixture compared to control. The mechanisms causing reduced fatty acid oxidation in the present study are unclear, however may be due to deficient membrane structure, the functionality of enzymes controlling the rate of fatty acid entering into the mitochondria, or complex pathways connected to endocrine disruption. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a PAH-caused reduction of hepatic β-oxidation of fatty acids in avian embryos has been observed. The implication of this finding on risk assessment of PAH exposure in avian wildlife remains to be determined.