We assessed the value of short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) as a possible biomonitor for polychlorinated biphenyl pollution through measurement of the induction of hepatic cytochrome P450 and associated enzyme activities. First, we checked the inducibility of four monooxygenases (benzyloxyresorufin-O-dealkylase [BROD], ethoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase [EROD], methoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase [MROD], and pentoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase [PROD]) by measuring the activity of these enzymes in hepatic microsomes prepared from shrews injected with $-naphthoflavone ($NF) or phenobarbital (PB), typical inducers of cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) and CYP2B enzyme families, respectively. Enzyme activity was induced in shrews that received $NF but not in shrews that received PB; PROD was not induced by either exposure. Later, shrews were exposed to a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (Aroclor 1242:1254, in 1:2 ratio) at 0.6, 9.6, and 150 ppm in food, for 31 d. Induction in these shrews was measured by specific enzyme activity (BROD, EROD, and MROD) in hepatic microsomes, by western blotting of solubilized microsomes against antibodies to CYP1A or CYP2B, and by duration of sodium pentobarbital-induced sleep. These three CYP enzymes were induced in shrews by PCBs at similar levels of exposure as in cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus). Neither sleep time nor the amount of CYP2B family protein were affected by PCB exposure. Blarina brevicauda can be a useful biomonitor of PCBs that induce CYP1A, especially in habitats where they are the abundant small mammal.
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Blarina brevicauda as a biological monitor of polychlorinated biphenyls: Evaluation of hepatic cytochrome p450 induction