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Oxidative stress responses in relationship to persistent organic pollutant levels in feathers and blood of two predatory bird species from Pakistan

Abbasi, Naeem Akhtar, Arukwe, Augustine, Jaspers, Veerle L.B., Eulaers, Igor, Mennilo, Elvira, Ibor, Oju Richard, Frantz, Adrien, Covaci, Adrian, Malik, Riffat Naseem
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.580 pp. 26-33
Athene, DDE (pesticide), Milvus migrans, birds of prey, blood, catalase, enzyme activity, feathers, gene expression, genes, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione transferase, glutathione-disulfide reductase, messenger RNA, oxidative stress, pollutants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, regression analysis, stress response, superoxide dismutase, Pakistan
To date, knowledge of persistent organic pollutant (POP) mediated oxidative stress responses in avian species is rather limited. We therefore investigated whether exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in two predatory bird species, namely black kite (Milvus migrans) and spotted owlet (Athene brama), was associated to activities of antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione S-transferase (GST), glutathione reductase (GR) and catalase (CAT), or expression of GPx and superoxide dismutase (SOD) genes. As part of this investigation, we evaluated whether feathers were suitable to reflect internal body burdens and their associated oxidative stress effects. p,p′-DDE was unanimously recorded with highest concentrations in feathers and blood of both species. In general, the non-significant associations reflect that feathers are not always a suitable indicator for internal body burdens of POPs, depending on the feather type and the age of the bird. The activity of GST and GR was significantly higher in spotted owlet whereas GPx and CAT was higher (albeit not significant) in spotted owlet and black kite respectively. In comparison, mRNA expression of GPx, SOD and Cu,ZnSOD was significantly higher in black kite. Regression analysis showed that the activity of GST and GR was significantly associated with p,p′-DDE in blood of spotted owlet. Similarly, activity of CAT and GR was significantly correlated with BDE-100 in feathers of spotted owlet. In comparison, mRNA expression of SOD was found significantly associated with ∑PBDEs in blood of spotted owlet as well as p,p′-DDE in feathers of black kite. Significant associations of various POPs with biological responses may suggest that POP exposure may be contributing to oxidative stress in the studied bird of prey species. This first investigation indicates the necessity for further research on cause-effect relationships between POP exposures and changes in general health of free ranging birds.