Persistent Organic Pollutant and Hormone Levels in Harbor Porpoise with B Cell Lymphoma

  • Stephanie A. NormanEmail author
  • Zach C. Winfield
  • Barry H. Rickman
  • Sascha Usenko
  • Matthew Klope
  • Susan Berta
  • Sandra Dubpernell
  • Howard Garrett
  • Mary Jo Adams
  • Dyanna Lambourn
  • Jessica L. Huggins
  • Nadine Lysiak
  • Adelaide E. Clark
  • Rebel Sanders
  • Stephen J. Trumble


B-cell lymphoma, a common morphologic variant of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, has been associated with persistent pollutants in humans, but this association is not well-characterized in top-level predators sharing marine resources with humans. We characterized and compared blubber contaminants and hormones of a pregnant harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) with B-cell lymphoma, with those in two presumed healthy fishery by-caught porpoises with no lymphoma: a pregnant adult and female juvenile. Common historic use compounds, including polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and pesticides, were evaluated in blubber samples from three porpoises. In addition, blubber cortisol and progesterone levels (ng/g) were determined in all three animals. Total pollutant concentrations were highest in the juvenile porpoise, followed by the lymphoma porpoise and the nonlymphoma adult. Blubber cortisol concentrations were 191% greater in the pregnant with lymphoma porpoise compared with the pregnant no lymphoma porpoise, and 89% greater in the juvenile female compared with the pregnant no lymphoma porpoise. Although both adults were pregnant, progesterone levels were substantially greater (90%) in the healthy compared with the lymphoma adult. Health monitoring of top-level marine predators, such as porpoise, provides a sentinel measure of contaminants that serve as indicators of potential environmental exposure to humans.


PCBs Marine Mammal Harbor Seal Harbor Porpoise Immunotoxicity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Essential funding for collection of these samples was provided through grants from the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program. The marine mammal stranding network members of Washington State helped procure porpoise tissues. Aleta Hohn (NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Beaufort, NC) and Jennifer Olson (The Whale Museum, Friday Harbor, WA) provided age information for the lymphoma-positive case.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie A. Norman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Zach C. Winfield
    • 5
  • Barry H. Rickman
    • 3
    • 6
  • Sascha Usenko
    • 1
  • Matthew Klope
    • 3
  • Susan Berta
    • 3
  • Sandra Dubpernell
    • 3
  • Howard Garrett
    • 3
  • Mary Jo Adams
    • 3
  • Dyanna Lambourn
    • 7
  • Jessica L. Huggins
    • 8
  • Nadine Lysiak
    • 1
    • 2
    • 9
  • Adelaide E. Clark
    • 5
  • Rebel Sanders
    • 2
  • Stephen J. Trumble
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Baylor Sciences BuildingBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology, One Bear Place, #97388Baylor UniversityWacoUSA
  3. 3.Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding NetworkFreelandUSA
  4. 4.Marine-Med: Marine Research, Epidemiology, and Veterinary MedicineBothellUSA
  5. 5.Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, One Bear Place, #97348Baylor UniversityWacoUSA
  6. 6.Faculty of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of SydneyCamdenAustralia
  7. 7.Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Mammal InvestigationsLakewoodUSA
  8. 8.Cascadia Research CollectiveOlympiaUSA
  9. 9.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA

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