Male Coturnix quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) were fed diets for 12 weeks containing graded levels of DDE, polychlorinated biphenyl (Aroclor 1254), malathion, and mercuric chloride. Birds were bled prior to exposure and at 2, 4 and 12 weeks, and the plasma used to measure the activities of creatine kinase, aspartate aminotransferase, cholinesterase, fructose-diphosphate aldolase, and lactate dehydrogenase. Abnormal activity of certain plasma enzymes was noted in birds after 2 and 4 weeks, but these changes were not proportional to dose or exposure time. At 12 weeks increases in each of the activities of plasma enzymes of birds fed organochlorines, and decreases in cholinesterase activity of birds fed malathion or mercuric chloride, were proportional to the log dose of the respective agents. In addition, the pattern of enzyme responses in the 4 experimental groups had changed, and was illustrative of the specific type of substance that had been fed. The data suggest that qualitative and quantitative identification of environmental contaminants in birds, and perhaps a variety of wild animals, may be possible by utilization of multiple plasma enzyme assays. Residue analyses after 12 weeks of feeding showed that DDE accumulated in carcasses and livers at concentrations up to 4-fold higher than those in the diets. In contrast residues of Aroclor 1254 attained in carcasses were identical to, and in livers one-half of, the concentration in the feed. Mercury did not accumulate as much in the tissues; residues attained were one-twentieth or less of those in the feed.
Additional publication details
Plasma enzyme activities in coturnix quail fed graded doses of DDE, polychlorinated biphenyl, malathion, and mercuric chloride