The thymus is believed to be a central component of haematopoiesis and immune function in teleosts. Hence, chemically-elicited adverse effects to the thymus may result in immunomodulation and organ dysfunction. The objective of this research was to assess the levels of active (apoptotic) and passive (necrotic) cell death in untreated and organochlorine treated fish thymocytes. Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) thymocytes were challenged with Aroclor 1254 (concentration range 1.5-10.5??g ml-1) and alpha, beta, gamma, delta isomers of hexachlorocyclohexane (concentration range 10-100??M). The resulting maintenance or loss of viability was assessed by cytofluorometry (expression of phosphatidylserine and exclusion of propidium iodide) and confirmed with fluorescence microscopy. The results indicate that 20-60% of thymocytes in healthy fish undergo apoptosis, whereas thymocytes treated for 6-24 h with organochlorines exhibit increased levels of apoptotic cell death. This study demonstrates that given sufficient concentration, contact time and cellular receptors, organochlorines such as Aroclor 1254 and hexachlorocyclohexanes may induce direct or indirect toxicity, altered functionality, or cell death to an organ important for fish immunocompetence. ?? 1998 Academic Press Limited.
Additional publication details
Fish thymocyte viability, apoptosis and necrosis: In-vitro effects of organochlorine contaminants