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Mobilization of PCBs from blubber to blood in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) during the post-weaning fast
Debier, C.; Chalon, C.; Le Bœuf, B.J.; de Tillesse, T.; Larondelle, Y.; Thomé, J.-P. (2006). Mobilization of PCBs from blubber to blood in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) during the post-weaning fast. Aquat. Toxicol. 80(2): 149-157.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 280317 [ OMA ]

    Fasting; Fasting; Juveniles; Marine mammals; PCB; Serum; Mirounga angustirostris Gill, 1866 [WoRMS]; INE, USA, California [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    northern elephant seal; PCBs; blubber; serum; fast; pups

Authors  Top 
  • Debier, C., more
  • Chalon, C.
  • Le Bœuf, B.J.
  • de Tillesse, T.
  • Larondelle, Y., more
  • Thomé, J.-P., more

    Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are characterized by extended fasting during which they rely entirely on their own body reserves. During fasts, lipids are mobilized from blubber to match the energy requirements of the animal. This transfer frees toxic fat-soluble pollutants into the blood circulation, which may exert adverse health effects, especially in young and developing animals. We investigated the dynamics of mobilization of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the blubber of northern elephant seal pups during the post-weaning fast. Longitudinal samples of blubber and serum were collected from free-ranging animals throughout the fast at Año Nuevo, California. Blubber biopsies were separated into inner and outer layers. The PCB profiles of blubber and serum consisted mainly of penta- (PCB-101, -110, -118), hexa- (PCB-138, -153) and hepta- (PCB-180, -183, -187) chlorobiphenyls, which accounted for almost 90% of the total PCB burden. Total PCB concentrations in inner blubber increased significantly between early and late fasting (563.6 ± 162.0 µg/kg lipids at early versus 911.6 ± 513.1 µg/kg lipids at late fasting) whereas they remained fairly constant in outer blubber (572.6 ± 134.8 µg/kg lipids at early versus 659.2 ± 158.8 µg/kg lipids at late fasting). A corresponding rise of PCB concentrations was observed in serum during the second half of the fast (3.8 ± 1.1 µg/l serum at early versus 7.2 ± 0.9 µg/l at late fasting). The longitudinal changes in circulating total PCBs could not be explained by the changes in serum lipid fractions (cholesterol, phospholipids, triacylglycerols and free fatty acids). The increases in total PCB concentrations in inner blubber and serum were more pronounced in leaner animals, which suggests that they might be more at risk to potential toxic effects.

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