[MARMAM] New publication on marine mammal immunotoxicology

Jean-Pierre Desforges jpdesforges at gmail.com
Tue Nov 24 06:32:16 PST 2015

Dear All,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to inform you of our recent
publication in *Environment International *on the topic of marine mammal

Desforges, J.-P.W., Sonne, C., Levin, M., Siebert, U., De Guise, S., Dietz,
R., 2016. Immunotoxic effects of environmental pollutants in marine
mammals. Environ. Int. 86, 126–139.

Abstract: Due to theirmarine ecology and life-history,marinemammals
accumulate someof the highest levels of environ- mental contaminants of all
wildlife.Given the increasing prevalence and severity of diseases
inmarinewildlife, it is imperative to understand how pollutants affect the
immune system and consequently disease susceptibility. Advancements and
adaptations of analytical techniques have facilitated marine mammal
immunotoxicology research. Field studies, captive-feeding experiments and
in vitro laboratory studies with marine mammals have associated exposure to
environmental pollutants, most notable polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
organo- chlorine pesticides and heavy metals, to alterations of both the
innate and adaptive arms of immune systems, which include aspects of
cellular and humoral immunity. For marine mammals, reported
immunotoxicology endpoints fell into several major categories: immune
tissue histopathology, haematology/circulating immune cell populations,
functional immune assays (lymphocyte proliferation, phagocytosis,
respiratory burst, and natu- ral killer cell activity), immunoglobulin
production, and cytokine gene expression. Lymphocyte proliferation is by
far themost commonly used immune assay, with studies using different
organic pollutants and metals predom- inantly reporting immunosuppressive
effects despite the many differences in study design and animal life histo-
ry. Using combined field and laboratory data, we determined effect
threshold levels for suppression of lymphocyte proliferation to be between
b0.001–10 ppmfor PCBs, 0.002–1.3 ppm for Hg, 0.009–0.06 for MeHg, and
0.1–2.4 for cadmiumin polar bears and several pinniped and cetacean
species. Similarly, thresholds for sup- pression of phagocytosis were
0.6–1.4 and 0.08–1.9 ppmfor PCBs and mercury, respectively. Although data
are lacking for many important immune endpoints and mechanisms of specific
immune alterations are not well understood, this reviewrevealed a systemic
suppression of immune function inmarinemammals exposed to en- vironmental
contaminants. Exposure to immunotoxic contaminants may have significant
population level con- sequences as a contributing factor to increasing
anthropogenic stress in wildlife and infectious disease outbreaks

This article is available free online for a limited time at

Jean-Pierre Desforges

*Jean-Pierre Desforges*
*Ph.D. Candidate*
*Department of Bioscience, **Arctic Research Centre*
*Aarhus University*
*Frederiksborgvej 399*
*4000 Roskilde - Denmark*
*Phone: +45 87 15 85 67*
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