Alteration of immunological function of an aquatic organism can be used as an indicator for evaluating the direct effect of exposure to pollutants. The aim of this work is to assess the impact of complex water pollution with special reference to Pyrethroid pesticides and heavy metals on mRNA transcript levels of Metallothionine and some immune related genes of Nile tilapia (Oreochromas Niloticus). Residues of six heavy metals and six Pyrethroid were assessed in water as well as fish tissues at three different sites of Lake Burullus, located at Northern Egypt. Variations of water physicochemical properties associated with different levels of heavy metals at the three different sections were recorded. Tissue residues of Fe, Mn and Zn, Cu, Ni exceed water levels in contrast to elevated water level of Pb. All assessed Pyrethroids are detected in fish tissue samples with higher concentration (3–42 folds) than that found in water samples especially Cypermethrin. Significant down-regulation of expression levels of metallothionein (MT) at the three sections of the lake was observed. The expression of immune related genes (IgM) and inflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL.8 and IL.1) were affected. IgM and TNF were significantly down-regulated at eastern and western section of the lake; meanwhile the expression of IL8 is down regulated at the three sections of the lack. IL1 was significantly up-regulated at eastern and middle sections.
We conclude that, variable gene expression of MT and immune-related genes at the three sections of the lack impose different response to complex water pollution in relation to variable aquatic environment.