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Influence of age, sex and body condition on zinc, copper, cadmium and metallothioneins in common guillemots (Uria aalge) stranded at the Belgian coast
Debacker, V.; Schiettecatte, L.-S.; Jauniaux, T.; Bouquegneau, J.-M. (2001). Influence of age, sex and body condition on zinc, copper, cadmium and metallothioneins in common guillemots (Uria aalge) stranded at the Belgian coast. Mar. Environ. Res. 52(5): 427-444. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0141-1136(01)00096-4
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 280422 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Uria aalge (Pontoppidan, 1763) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    common guillemot; Uria aalge; Belgian coast; heavy metals; metallothionein; body condition; sex

Authors  Top 
  • Debacker, V., more
  • Schiettecatte, L.-S., more
  • Jauniaux, T., more
  • Bouquegneau, J.-M., more

Abstract
    The common guillemots, Uria aalge, found stranded at the Belgian coast, display high levels of Cu in both liver and kidneys. The condition index of the animals, defined as the ratio of liver to kidneys mass (Wenzel & Adelung, 1996, The suitability of oiled Guillemots (Uria aalge) as monitoring organisms for geographical comparisons of trace element contaminants. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 31, 368-377), influences both the metal concentration and its binding to metallothioneins (MT): the lower the condition index, the more emaciated the animals, and the higher the total Cu concentration and the concentration of Cu bound to MT. In less robust individuals, our results suggest that Cu could displace Zn from MT, rendering the Zn ions available to induce a new MT synthesis. Sex-related effects also emerged as significantly higher hepatic MT as well as Cu- and Zn-MT concentrations were found in emaciated male guillemots compared to females. In both organs, Cd concentrations remained low and typically demonstrated an age-dependent renal accumulation, with no noticeable effect of the condition index. As a whole, these results suggest that, for guillemots found stranded at the Belgian coast, Cu binding to hepatic and renal MT could function as a protective mechanism, rendering the metal ions unavailable to exert any cytotoxic activity.

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