[MARMAM] NEW PUBLICATION: Liver histopathology of Baltic grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) over three decades

Britta Müller brimue92 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 22 02:27:29 PDT 2020

Dear MARMAM community,

my co-authors and I are happy to announce the publication of our new paper
in Environmental International about “Liver histopathology of Baltic grey
seals (*Halichoerus grypus*) over three decades"


Schmidt, B., Sonne, C., Nachtsheim, D., Wohlsein, P., Persson, S., Dietz,
R., Siebert, U., 2020. Liver histopathology of Baltic grey seals (*Halichoerus
grypus*) over three decades. Environ. Int., 164(1106110), 1-8.


The liver plays an important role in the metabolism and elimination of
endogenic and exogenic lipid-soluble compounds. Multiple studies have shown
that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)

and dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) lead to morphological changes in
liver cells. The aim of the present study was therefore to analyse liver
changes over time in Baltic grey seals (*Halichoerus grypus*)

and to correlate these with historical PCB and DDT contaminations. A total
of 191 liver samples were collected between 1981 and 2015 in the Gulf of
Bothnia and northern Baltic Proper.

Six histological features were evaluated, including portal mononuclear cell
infiltration, random mononuclear cell infiltration, lipid granulomas,
hepatocellular fat vacuoles, hepatic stellate cells

and mild multifocal bile duct hyperplasia accompanied by portal fibrosis.
Three of the six lesions showed a significant correlation with age.
Furthermore, a positive correlation between

portal mononuclear cell infiltration and mild multifocal bile duct
hyperplasia was found. Additionally, lipid granulomas were significantly
correlated with hepatic stellate cells.

More importantly, hepatic stellate cells and mild multifocal bile duct
hyperplasia were correlated with adipose tissue (blubber) concentrations of
ƩPCB, measured in a subsample (n=34) of all individuals.

No correlation with lesions and ƩDDT concentration were found. These
results show that age is an important factor for the development of these
liver lesions, but PCBs burden may be an influencing factor.

This is an agreement with previous studies of marine mammals in the Baltic
Sea as well as in the Arctic. We therefore conclude that not only age of
the animals, but also exposure to PCBs should be taken into account

when understanding and evaluating the current health status of the Baltic
grey seals.

The publication is freely available at:


Britta Schmidt

Marine Biologist

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation

Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), Germany
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