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