Decreased lymphocyte responses in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are associated with increased concentrations of PCBs and DDT in peripheral blood

G. P. Lahvis, R. S. Wells, D. W. Kuehl, J. L. Stewart, H. L. Rhinehart, C. S. Via

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223 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 1987, large-scale mortalities of dolphins have been reported along the Atlantic coast of North America, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Mediterranean Sea. Autopsied bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, which were collected from the large-scale mortality along the Atlantic coast in 1987 to 1988, exhibited opportunistic infections indicative of immune dysfunction. Further, these animals had high levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as PCBs and DDT, that can suppress immune functions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between chemical contaminant exposure and immune response in free-ranging dolphins. In June of 1991, peripheral blood was obtained from members of a bottlenose dolphin population that resides along the west coast of Florida. Peripheral blood lymphocyte responses to Concanavalin A (Con A) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA) were determined in vitro and compared by regression analysis with contaminant concentrations in whole blood from a small subset of these animals (n = 5). These data indicate that a reduced immune response in these bottlenose dolphins was correlated with increasing whole blood concentrations of several contaminants. Specifically, inverse correlations were found between Con A-induced lymphocyte proliferation and tetrachlorinated to octachlorinated biphenyls (r2 values ranged from 0.70 to 0.87). Con A-induced lymphocyte responses also correlated inversely with p,p' DDT (r2 values of 0.73 and 0.79); o,p'- DDE (r2 values of 0.93 and 0.96); and p,p'- DDE (r2 values of 0.73 and 0.81).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Volume103
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

Keywords

  • Contaminant
  • DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane)
  • Dolphin
  • Immune response
  • Lymphocyte
  • Marine
  • PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl)
  • Polychlorinated hydrocarbons
  • Strandings
  • Tursiops truncatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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