Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Bulletin of the European Association of Fish Pathologists
Field and laboratory studies indicate a strong positive association between exposure to chemical pollutants in aquatic environments and development of neoplasia in fishes. This brief communication reviews some of the more important North American and European studies that have been conducted on this relationship. We then review work conducted on a small nonmigratory estuarine cyprinodontid teleost fish, the mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) in the industrialized Elizabeth River, Virginia USA. Histopathological surveys of mummichogs from variously degraded habitats indicate an association between PAH exposure and development of neoplasia. We have observed non-neoplastic lesions, preneoplasms and hepatic, biliary, exocrine pancreatic and vascular neoplasms in mummichogs inhabiting Virginia and Maryland estuaries. These lesions track a sediment PAH gradient with highest prevalence occurring in fish from PAI-I-contaminated sites in the industrialized portions of the Elizabeth River, Virginia. Liver metabolizing enzyme profiles typical of those observed in carcinogen-challenged laboratory rodents (e.g., depressed phase I enzymes, elevated phase II enzymes, elevated p-glycoprotein) provided additional support of a chemical etiology for the neoplasms occurring in these fish. Long-term laboratory exposure of mummichogs to creosote-contaminated sediments resulted in development of altered hepatocellular foci and hepatic neoplasms. Biomarkers of fish exposure and effects (e.g., CYPlA induction, bile FA C's, DNA adducts, liver histopathology) are presently used in the Puget Sound, Washington USA and Elizabeth River, Virginia USA to track long-term environmental recovery following habitat remediation.
Mummichog Fundulus-heteroclitus; Creosote-Contaminated Environment; Flounder Platichthys-flesus; Sole Parophrys-vetulus;
Vogelbein, W. K. and Unger, M. A., Liver carcinogenesis in a non-migratory fish: The association with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure (2006). Bulletin of the European Association of Fish Pathologists, 26(1), 11-20.