Biomarker responses and histopathological lesions have been documented in laboratory mammals exposed to elevated concentrations of lead and cadmium. The exposure of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to these metals and the potential associated toxic effects were examined at three contaminated sites in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District and at a reference site in MO, USA. Mice from the contaminated sites showed evidence of oxidative stress and reduced activity of red blood cell δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD). Histological examinations of the liver and kidney, cytologic examination of blood smears, and biomarkers of lipid peroxidation and DNA damage failed to show indications of toxic effects from lead. The biomagnification factor of cadmium (hepatic concentration/soil concentration) at a site with a strongly acid soil was 44 times the average of the biomagnification factors at two sites with slightly alkaline soils. The elevated concentrations of cadmium in the mice did not cause observable toxicity, but were associated with about a 50% decrease in expected tissue lead concentrations and greater ALAD activity compared to the activity at the reference site. Lead was associated with a decrease in concentrations of hepatic glutathione and thiols, whereas cadmium was associated with an increase. In addition, to support risk assessment efforts, we developed linear regression models relating both tissue lead dosages (based on a previously published a laboratory study) and tissue lead concentrations in Peromyscus to soil lead concentrations.
Beyer, W. N., Casteel, S. W., Friedrichs, K. R., Gramlich, E., Houseright, R. A., Nichols, J. R., … Schultz, S. L. (2018). Biomarker responses of Peromyscus leucopus exposed to lead and cadmium in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 190(2). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-017-6442-0