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Organohalogenated contaminants in white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) nestlings: An assessment of relationships to immunoglobulin levels, telomeres and oxidative stress.

Posted by on in 2016
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Sletten S1Bourgeon S2Bårdsen BJ3Herzke D4Criscuolo F5Massemin S5Zahn S5Johnsen TV3Bustnes JO6. 2016. Sci Total Environ. 539:337-49. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.08.123. Epub 2015 Sep 11.

  • 1Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway; Faculty for Biosciences, Fisheries and Economy, The Arctic University of Norway, Brevika, 9037 Tromsø, Norway.
  • 2The Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway.
  • 3Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway.
  • 4Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Fram Centre, NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway.
  • 5Evolutionary Ecophysiology Team, Department of Ecology, Physiology and Ethology, Hubert Curien Pluridisciplinary Institute, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 7178, University of Strasbourg, France.
  • 6Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Fram Centre, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway. Electronic address:


Biomagnifying organohalogenated compounds (OHCs) may have adverse effects on the health of birds, especially marine avian top predators that accumulate high OHC loads. Contaminants may impair the humoral immunity and also influence the antioxidant enzyme activity (i.e. oxidative stress). Moreover, physical conditions and oxidative stress during development may reduce telomere lengths, one of the main mechanisms explaining cell senescence. To examine the potential effects of environmental contaminants on physiological biomarkers of health, OHCs with different 'physicochemical' properties were related to immunoglobulin Y levels (IgY; humoral immunity), superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD) activity in blood plasma, and telomere length (measured in red blood cells) in individual 7-8weeks old nestlings (n=35) of white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in the Norwegian Sub-Arctic. Different organochlorines (OCs) and perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) were measured in blood plasma of nestlings, demonstrating higher concentrations of the emerging contaminants (PFASs), notably perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), compared to legacy OCs. There were no relationships between the contaminant loads and plasma IgY levels. Moreover, differences between years were found for telomere lengths, but this was not related to contaminants and more likely a result of different developmental conditions. However, there were significant and negative relationships between the OC loadings and the SOD activity. This suggests that some legacy OCs challenge the antioxidant capacity in nestlings of white-tailed eagles.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Organochlorines; Oxidative stress; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Plasma immunoglobulin Y; Telomeres; White-tailed eagle

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