Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 1015–1027 | Cite as

Physiological response of alligator gar juveniles (Atractosteus spatula) exposed to sub-lethal doses of pollutants

  • Carlos Aguilera González
  • Julio Cruz
  • Roberto Mendoza AlfaroEmail author


Alligator gar populations have declined because of overfishing, habitat loss and pollution. Over time, the exposure to different pollutants have affected these fishes as a consequence of their high trophic level, bottom-dwelling habits and long life span. In order to evaluate the physiological effects of pollutants on alligator gar, juveniles (6, 12 and 24 months) were exposed to sub-lethal doses of diazinon, β-naphthoflavone (BNF) and 17 β-estradiol (E2) by intraperitoneal injection. After 2 days of exposure, liver samples were taken to determine the activities of acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase and carboxylesterase; alkaline and acid phosphatases (ALP and ACP); ethoxyresorufin o-deethylase (EROD); glutathione s-transferase (GST); superoxide dismutase (SOD), and vitellogenin (VTG) concentration. Two additional bioassays consisting on the exposure of compounds through water or food were performed and after 4 and 28 days, respectively, biomarkers were determined. All esterases were inhibited in organisms exposed to diazinon as well as in 6-months gar exposed to E2 and BNF. In contrast, ALP activity increased in gar exposed to diazinon and E2, while ACP activity did not show any variations. No EROD activity was registered after exposure to the different pollutants, despite being one of the most sensitive and common detoxification biomarkers used for fishes. GST activity reduction was detected when gar were exposed to E2 and BNF, while SOD activity increased after exposure to diazinon and E2. Finally, VTG levels were higher in animals exposed to E2 compared to other treatments. Overall, these results suggest that alligator gar juveniles have a low biotransformation metabolism and show that they are especially sensitive to those pollutants affecting the nervous system.


Alligator gar Biotransformation enzymes Cholinesterases Vitellogenin EDCs 



The authors wish to acknowledge the Programs for the Support of Scientific and Technological Research (CONACYT 105116, PAICYT CN781-11) for financing the Project.

Conflict of interest

We, the authors state that we do not have any conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Aguilera González
    • 1
  • Julio Cruz
    • 2
  • Roberto Mendoza Alfaro
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecofisiología, Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL)San Nicolás de los GarzaMexico
  2. 2.Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y ZootecniaUniversidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL)EscobedoMexico

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