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Issue 4, 2005
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Sea-urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) glutathione S-transferases and cholinesterase activities as biomarkers of environmental contamination

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Abstract

Activities of glutathione S-transferases (GST) and cholinesterase (ChE) from Paracentrotus lividus were investigated as possible biomarkers of environmental contamination in the coastal zone. In the first phase of the study, the activity of both enzymes was determined in various tissues in order to select the most appropriate ones to be used in the following assays. In the second phase, the ChEs present in ambulacra were characterized using different substrates and selective inhibitors. In the next phase, laboratory bioassays were performed with dilutions of water-accommodated fraction of #4 fuel-oil (WAF) and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) to determine the response of those enzymes to these pollutants and, finally, the activity of both enzymes was determined during a year in indigenous specimens from six sites on the Northwest coast of Portugal, with different pollution levels, to determine basal values and seasonal variations of ChE and GST activities. Among the several tissues tested, ambulacra and the anterior portion of the intestine were selected for ChE and GST assays, respectively. The determination of ChE in ambulacra tissue may be performed in a non-destructive way. Ambulacra ChE hydrolysed acetylthiocholine preferentially to propionylthiocholine and butyrylthiocholine and, inhibition by excess of substrate was observed. Enzymatic activity was almost fully inhibited by eserine sulfate (>98%) at concentrations equal or higher than 6.25 μM. Sensitivity to both BW284C51 (reaching 98% at 200 μM) and iso-OMPA (73% at 8 mM) was found. In laboratory bioassays, GSTs activity was inhibited by WAF and induced by BaP, whereas ChE activity was not affected by any of these environmental contaminants. Seasonal variations in enzymatic activities were found. For example, in a reference site, ChE values changed from 52.2 ± 9.3 U mg−1 protein in autumn to 71.8 ± 13.3 U mg−1 protein in spring, while GST activity changed from 129.9 ± 29.8 U mg−1 protein in winter to 279.0 ± 48.0 U mg−1 protein in autumn. Sea-urchins from reference sites presented significantly higher values of both ChE and GST than animals from contaminated sites in all seasons. In conclusion, the results of this study indicate that (i) ambulacra and the anterior portion of intestine are the most suitable tissues to measure ChE and GST activities, respectively; (ii) only one form of ChE seems to be present in ambulacra, showing properties of both typical acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and pseudocholinesterase (PChE); (iii) P. lividus GST is sensitive to both WAF and BaP even after acute exposures while ChE is not, and (iv) in spite of the significant seasonal variations observed in both enzymes in the field, P. lividus ChE and GST were capable of discriminate sites with different contamination levels and, thus, they are suitable for use as biomarkers in biomonitoring studies in the coastal zone.

Graphical abstract: Sea-urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) glutathione S-transferases and cholinesterase activities as biomarkers of environmental contamination

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Sep 2004, accepted on 15 Feb 2005 and first published on 03 Mar 2005


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B414773A
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2005,7, 288-294
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    Sea-urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) glutathione S-transferases and cholinesterase activities as biomarkers of environmental contamination

    I. Cunha, L. M. García and L. Guilhermino, J. Environ. Monit., 2005, 7, 288
    DOI: 10.1039/B414773A

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