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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Sex Hormone Concentrations in Ringed and Grey Seals: A Possible Link to Endocrine Disruption?

Authors
  • Troisi, G. M.1
  • Barton, S. J.2
  • Liori, O.2
  • Nyman, M.3
  • 1 Brunel University London,
  • 2 Kingston University,
  • 3 Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute,
Type
Published Article
Journal
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Feb 27, 2020
Volume
78
Issue
4
Pages
513–524
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00244-020-00716-z
PMID: 32107597
PMCID: PMC7136188
Source
PubMed Central
Disciplines
  • Article
License
Unknown

Abstract

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are recognised reproductive and immune system toxicants in marine mammals mediated by endocrine-disrupting mechanisms. As with other predators, seals are exposed to elevated bioaccumulated concentrations of PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Cryopreserved plasma samples from adult ringed ( Phoca hispida; n = 39) and grey ( Halichoerus grypus; n = 38) seals, sampled between 1998 and 2002 from Baltic Sea, Svalbard, and Sable Island (Canada) were used to investigate relationships between PCB exposure and sex hormone concentrations (progesterone; P4, 17α-hydroxy progesterone; 17α-OH-P4, testosterone; T4, 17β-estradiol; E2, estrone; E3). Immunoassay methods were used for quantification of analytes due to the limited sample volumes available. PCB concentrations were found to be significantly higher in Baltic seals than other sampling locations and were classed as “ Exposed” seals while Svalbard and Sable Is seal were classed “ Reference” seals (sexes and species separate). Mean hormone concentrations in Exposed seal were lower than Reference seals, and this was statistically significantly for 17α-OH-P4 (both sexes and both species), E2 (ringed and grey seal females), and E3 (grey seal females). Regression analyses (PCB v hormone concentrations) for each sex and species revealed significant correlations for P4 (Sable Is. female grey seals and female ringed seals), 17α-OH-P4 (Sable Is. male grey seals and Svalbard male ringed seals), T4 (Svalbard male ringed seals), E2 (female ringed seals), and E3 (female ringed seals and Baltic female grey seals). Although significant correlations are not evidence of cause and effect, the potential impact of hormone changes on endocrine homeostasis and reproductive health for seal populations warrants further investigation given that PCB concentrations found here are in the same range as those currently reported in seals from these populations.

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