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Toxicity of atrazine and nonylphenol in juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): Effects on general health, disease susceptibility and gene expression

Shelley, Lesley K., Ross, Peter S., Miller, Kristina M., Kaukinen, Karia H., Kennedy, Christopher J.
Aquatic toxicology 2012 v.124-125 pp. 217-226
DNA damage, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Vibrio anguillarum, aquatic habitat, atrazine, cell cycle, cortisol, disease resistance, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, estrogenic properties, ethanol, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, homeostasis, liver, lymphocytes, metabolism, microarray technology, monocytes, mortality, oxygen, pollutants, risk, toxicity, transcriptome, vitellogenin, wild fish
Atrazine (ATZ) and nonylphenol (NP) are commonly identified contaminants in aquatic habitats; however, few studies have considered the impact of these endocrine disrupters on immune function and resistance to disease. This study examined the immunotoxicological effects of ATZ and NP at multiple levels of biological organization. Juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed to a solvent control (0.00625%, v/v anhydrous ethanol), or sub-lethal concentrations of ATZ (59μg/L and 555μg/L) or NP (2.3μg/L or 18μg/L) for 4d. At the end of exposure, fish were assessed for a number of physiological endpoints, including a host resistance challenge, and liver gene expression was assessed using a salmonid microarray (cGRASP, 32K version 1). While the low ATZ and low NP treatments had no measurable effects on the physiological endpoints measured, fish exposed to the high ATZ concentration (555μg/L) exhibited significantly elevated plasma cortisol, a decrease in SSI, and decreased lymphocytes and increased monocytes in peripheral blood, with suppression of early immune system processes apparent at the molecular level. In contrast, fish exposed to the high NP concentration (18μg/L) showed physiological (e.g. significantly elevated LSI) and gene expression changes (e.g. induction of vitellogenin) consistent with estrogenic effects, as well as decreased lymphocytes in the peripheral blood and more limited alterations in immune system related pathways in the liver transcriptome. Fish exposed to high ATZ or NP concentrations incurred higher mortality than control fish following a disease challenge with Listonella anguillarum, while fish exposed to the lower concentrations were unaffected. Microarray analysis of the liver transcriptome revealed a total of 211 unique, annotated differentially regulated genes (DRGs) following high ATZ exposure and 299 DRGs following high NP exposure. Functional (enrichment) analysis revealed effects on immune system function, metabolism, oxygen homeostasis, cell cycle, DNA damage, and other processes affected by ATZ or NP exposure. Overall, this study provides evidence at multiple levels of biological organization that both ATZ and NP are immunotoxic at sub-lethal concentrations and highlights the potential risk posed by these chemicals to wild fish populations.