Relationships between concentrations of selected organohalogen contaminants and thyroid hormones and vitamins A, E and D in Faroese pilot whales

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Abstract

Pilot whales (Globicephala melas) from the Faroe Islands, North-East Atlantic, have high body concentrations of organohalogenated compounds (OHCs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorinated pesticides (OCPs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The aim of the present study was to examine if and to what extent blood plasma and liver concentrations of several groups of these OHCs are related to concentrations of relevant nutritional and hormonal biomarkers in pilot whales. Thyroid hormones (THs: total and free thyroxine and total and free triiodothyronine) and vitamin A (retinol), D (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) and E (α-tocopherol) were analysed in plasma (n=27) and vitamin A (total vitamin A, retinol and retinyl palmitate) and E (α- and γ-tocopherol) were analysed in liver (n=37) of Faroe Island pilot whales. Correlative relationships between the biomarkers and OHC concentrations previously analysed in the same tissues in these individuals were studied. The TH concentrations in plasma were significantly higher in juveniles than in adults. Vitamin D concentrations in plasma and α- and γ-tocopherol in liver were higher in adults than in juveniles. Multivariate statistical modelling showed that the age and sex influenced the relationship between biomarkers and OHCs. Some significant positive relationships were found between OHCs and thyroid hormone concentrations in the youngest juveniles (p<0.05). In plasma of juvenile whales α–tocopherol was also positively correlated with all the OHCs (p<0.05). Only few significant correlations were found between single OHCs and retinol and vitamin D in plasma within the age groups. There were significant negative relationships between hepatic PBDE concentrations and retinol (BDE-47) and γ–tocopherol (BDE-49, -47, -100, -99, -153) in liver. The relationships between OHCs and THs or vitamins suggest that in pilot whales OHCs seem to have minor effects on TH and vitamin concentrations.

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