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Correlations between pathological changes and chemical contamination in American eels, Anguilla rostrata, from the St. Lawrence River

Couillard, C M, Hodson, P V, Castonguay, M
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 1997 v.54 no.8 pp. 1916-1927
Anguilla rostrata, Nematoda, abnormal development, biomarkers, diameter, disease incidence, eel, liver, macrophages, migratory behavior, mirex, oocytes, pollution, spleen, surface area, Lake Ontario, Saint Lawrence River
American eel (Anguilla rostrata) from the St. Lawrence River are heavily contaminated with chemicals that may be associated with increased incidence of diseases and reproductive impairment. The relationship between tissue mirex concentration and body mass was used to separate eels into two groups: the proportion of eels migrating from contaminated areas (Lake Ontario and upper St. Lawrence River) increased as the migration season progressed. Vertebral malformations and basophilic foci in the liver (preneoplastic lesions) were more frequent at the end of the migratory season, when the eels were more heavily contaminated with organochlorine compounds. In contrast, mesenteric nematodes were more common in the first week of the season, when eels were less contaminated. Diameters and percentages of different stages of oocytes, and density and surface area of pigmented macrophage aggregates in the spleen, did not vary among weeks. While basophilic foci are specific biomarkers of exposure to environmental contaminants, vertebral malformations may be caused by a variety of other anthropogenic or natural factors.\b Further studies are needed to confirm the observed associations between chemical contamination and pathological changes.