Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 11, pp 10493–10509 | Cite as

Frequencies of erythrocyte nuclear abnormalities and of leucocytes in the fish Barbus peloponnesius correlate with a pollution gradient in the River Bregalnica (Macedonia)

  • Katerina Rebok
  • Maja Jordanova
  • Valentina Slavevska-Stamenković
  • Lozenka Ivanova
  • Vasil Kostov
  • Trajče Stafilov
  • Eduardo Rocha
Research Article


Integrated chemical and biomarker approaches were performed to estimate if there is ongoing toxicity in the River Bregalnica, namely connected with the presence of metals. The study was performed in water, sediment, and barbel (Barbus peloponnesius), collected in two seasons, from two suspected polluted and one reference zones. The water analyses revealed higher mean values in polluted sites for most of the examined physicochemical parameters. Metal concentrations (Zn, Cu, Cd, Mn, Pb, and Fe) in water were more or less constant, whereas in sediment, they were higher at the two polluted locations. Condition factor (CF), as a general health indicator, revealed better overall condition in barbel from the reference site. In general, blood parameters revealed higher values in the polluted localities. Irrespective of sex and/or season, the frequency of micronuclei (MN) and vacuolated nuclei (VN) were with higher rates in polluted sites. Similarly, the frequencies of the leucocytes (Le), binuclei (BN), and irregularly shaped nuclei (ISN) were also significantly increased in the polluted localities, but they seemed prone to be influenced by sex and/or season. However, strong positive correlations between blood biomarkers and most water physicochemical parameters and metal in sediment were estimated. Our data support that the River Bregalnica’s lower course receives significant genotoxic pollution, likely via metal industry effluents, agricultural runoff, and domestic sewage, and reinforced the utility of MN and other nuclear abnormalities as sensitive and suitable biomarkers for genotoxicity when used in monitoring studies.


Blood Fish Genotoxicity Metals Micronuclei Sediment contamination Water quality 



The authors are very thankful to Daniela Jovanovska for making a map for this study. We are also especially thankful to Professor Zlatko Levkov for making the light microscope available that was used for making the digital microphotographs.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics“Ss Cyril and Methodius” UniversitySkopjeRepublic of Macedonia
  2. 2.Fisheries DepartmentInstitute of Animal ScienceSkopjeRepublic of Macedonia
  3. 3.Institute of Chemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics“Ss Cyril and Methodius” UniversitySkopjeRepublic of Macedonia
  4. 4.Laboratory of Histology and Embryology, Department of Microscopy, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS)University of Porto (UPorto)PortoPortugal
  5. 5.Group of Histomorphology, Physiopathology and Applied Toxicology, Interdisciplinary Center of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR)University of Porto (UPorto)MatosinhosPortugal

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