To examine the immunological impacts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in an environmentally relevant way, we orally contaminated Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) with Aroclor 1254. After contamination, fish were either fed (0 and 100 mg Aroclor 1254 kg-1 fish wt) or fasted (0, 1, 10, and 100 mg kg-1) to mimic cycles of feeding-fasting experienced by Arctic animals. After four months, PCB concentrations in muscle were the same in fasted and fed fish; however, PCBs in kidneys of fed fish were 33 to 50% of those in fasted fish. Arctic charr were exposed to Aeromonas salmonicida, the bacteria responsible for furunculosis, by cohabitation with infected conspecifics. Fasted fish had a significant trend toward lower survival with higher dose of PCBs - from 68% in controls to 48% in treatment involving 100 mg kg-1. Independent of PCB contamination, fed fish had the lowest survival; we attribute this to stress associated with establishing and maintaining feeding hierarchies. A significant decrease in the activity of lysozyme was observed in skin mucus, as was hemagglutination ability of a putative rhamnose lectin in fasted, but not in fed, PCB-treated fish. These results demonstrate the immunosuppressive effects of PCBs on Arctic charr, and they illustrate the importance of considering environmentally relevant nutritional status in ecotoxicological studies.
Additional publication details
Aroclor 1254 exposure reduces disease resistance and innate immune responses in fasted arctic charr