Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Aquatic Toxicology



First Page


Last Page



Atlantic killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, are adapted to creosote-based PAHs at the US EPA Superfund site known as Atlantic Wood (AW) on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, VA USA. Subsequent to the discovery of the AW population in the early 1990s, these fish were shown to be recalcitrant to CYP1A induction by PAHs under experimental conditions, and even to the time of this study, killifish embryos collected from the AW site are resistant to developmental deformities typically associated with exposure to PAHs in reference fish. Historically, however, 90 +% of the adult killifish at this site have proliferative hepatic lesions including cancer of varying severity. Several PAHs at this site are known to be ligands for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). In this study, AHR-related activities in AW fish collected between 2011 and 2013 were re-examined nearly 2 decades after first discovery. This study shows that CYP1A mRNA expression is three-fold higher in intestines of AW killifish compared to a reference population. Using immunohistochemistry, CYP1A staining in intestines was uniformly positive compared to negative staining in reference fish. Livers of AW killifish were examined by IHC to show that CYP1A and AHR2 protein expression reflect lesions-specific patterns, probably representing differences in intrinsic cellular physiology of the spectrum of proliferative lesions comprising the hepatocarcinogenic process. We also found that COX2 mRNA expression levels were higher in AW fish livers compared to those in the reference population, suggesting a state of chronic inflammation. Overall, these findings suggest that adult AW fish are responsive to AHR signaling, and do express CYP1A and AHR2 proteins in intestines at a level above what was observed in the reference population. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




Aryl-Hydrocarbon Receptor; Different Exposure Histories; Glutathione-S-Transferase; Zebrafish Danio-Rerio; Contaminated Site; Elizabeth River; Breast-Cancer; Cyclooxygenase-2 Expression; Chemical Carcinogenesis; Hematopoietic Tissues