Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

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Bivalve mollusks including oysters have low metabolic potential and are therefore susceptible to accumulating high levels of lipophilic organic contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Human exposure to PAHs via consumption of this important commercial shellfish can be a serious public health concern in areas where high PAH contamination exists. Previous PAH immunohistochemical studies have been limited to laboratory-based exposures focusing on one or a few individual PAH compounds. To date, such studies have yet to explore PAH accumulation in oysters, known to have some of the highest levels of PAHs across different food products. Using a monoclonal antibody selective for a range of three- to five-ring PAHs, we present a method to detect and localize complex mixtures of PAHs in oyster tissues via fluorescent immunohistochemistry. Observed immunofluorescence intensity followed a similar trend as measured levels of PAHs in oyster interstitial fluid from PAH-contaminated sites and oysters exposed to the water accommodated fraction of crude oil. This method will be valuable in understanding internal partitioning mechanisms of PAH-exposed oysters and will have important applications in studies on PAH distribution in the tissues of additional organisms for environmental, medical, or veterinary purposes.


DOI: 10.1002/etc.5539


bioaccumulation; histology; oil spills; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.