A biomarker approach to assessing xenobiotic exposure in Atlantic tomcod from the North American Atlantic coast

  • Wirgin I
  • Grunwald C
  • Courtenay S
 et al. 
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We determined levels of hepatic cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) mRNA, hepatic DNA adducts, and fluorescent aromatic compounds (FACs) in bile, a measure of exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons, in Atlantic tomcod from six river systems ranging from highly polluted to relatively pristine on the northeast North American coast (the Hudson River, New York; the St. Lawrence River, Quebec; the Miramichi River, New Brunswick; the Saco and Royal rivers, Maine; and the Margaree River, Nova Scotia). Hudson River tomcod showed the greatest response for all parameters, and tomcod from the Margaree River exhibited the least response. Tomcod from the Miramichi River exhibited marked induction of CYP1A mRNA but low levels of hepatic DNA adducts and biliary FACs, whereas fish from the St. Lawrence River showed no induction of CYP1A mRNA and moderately elevated levels of DNA adducts and biliary FACs. In tomcod from the Hudson and Miramichi rivers, the levels of CYP1A mRNA were 28 times and 14 times, respectively, as great as the levels in fish from the St. Lawrence, Saco/Royal, and Margaree rivers. Mean levels of DNA adducts varied from 120 nmol adducts/mol bases in Hudson River tomcod to < 3 nmol adducts/mol bases in fish from the Miramichi and Margaree rivers. Concentrations of FACs in the bile of tomcod from the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers were 8 and 1.8 times, respectively, as great as the concentrations in tomcod from the Miramichi River and Margaree River. In tomcod from the Hudson River, all three biomarkers were markedly elevated; in the St. Lawrence River two biomarkers were elevated, in the Miramichi River one was elevated, but no biomarker was substantially elevated in fish from the Saco/Royal and Margaree rivers. Elevated levels of hepatic DNA adducts and biliary FACs in tomcod from the Hudson River suggest increased exposure to PAHs, consistent with previous studies.

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  • I. I. Wirgin

  • C. Grunwald

  • S. Courtenay

  • G. L. Kreamer

  • W. L. Reichert

  • J. E. Stein

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