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Changes in Histopathology, Enzyme Activities, and the Expression of Relevant Genes in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Following Long-Term Exposure to Environmental Levels of Thallium

Abstract

Thallium is a rare-earth element, but widely distributed in water environments, posing a potential risk to our health. This study was designed to investigate the chronic effects of thallium based on physiological responses, gene expression, and changes in the activity of relevant enzymes in adult zebra fish exposed to thallium at low doses. The endpoints assessed include mRNA expression of metallothionein (MT)2 and heat shock protein HSP70; enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Na+/K+-ATPase; and the histopathology of gill, gonad, and liver tissues. The results showed significant increases in HSP70 mRNA expression following exposure to 100 ng/L thallium and in MT2 expression following exposure to 500 ng/L thallium. Significantly higher activities were observed for SOD in liver and Na+/K+-ATPase activity in gill in zebra fish exposed to thallium (20 and 100 ng/L, respectively) in comparison to control fish. Gill, liver, and gonad tissues displayed different degrees of damage. The overall results imply that thallium may cause toxicity to zebra fish at environmentally relevant aqueous concentrations.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC21607032, 40821003, 21037001 and 41101462) and State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, GIGCAS (Grant No. SKLOG-2016).

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Correspondence to Hu Shu or Yong-Heng Chen.

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Hou, LP., Yang, Y., Shu, H. et al. Changes in Histopathology, Enzyme Activities, and the Expression of Relevant Genes in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Following Long-Term Exposure to Environmental Levels of Thallium. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 99, 574–581 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-017-2176-5

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Keywords

  • Zebra fish
  • Thallium
  • Gene expression
  • Enzyme activity
  • Toxicity
  • Pathology