Skin and liver diseases induced in flounder (<i>Platichthys flesus</i>) after long-term exposure to contaminated sediments in large-scale mesocosms.

TitleSkin and liver diseases induced in flounder (Platichthys flesus) after long-term exposure to contaminated sediments in large-scale mesocosms.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsVethaak, D, Jol, JG, Meijboom, A, Eggens, ML, Rheinallt, T, Wester, PW, van de Zande, T, Bergman, A, Dankers, N, Ariese, F, Baan, RA, Everts, JM, Opperhuizen, A, Marquenie, JM
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Pagination1218 - 1229
Date Published1996/11/01

Disease development in flounder (Platichthys flesus) was studied over a period of 3 years in three large mesocosms (40 m x 40 m x 3 m). Two of the mesocosms contained clean sand and the third, sharing a common water circulation with one of the clean-sand mesocosms, was stocked with contaminated dredged spoil. In this way, one of the clean-sand mesocosms was indirectly polluted via the water phase, and analysis of contaminant concentrations in sediments and flounder tissues showed that it had a status intermediate between the other two. Random samples of the flounder populations from the indirectly polluted and reference mesocosms were examined every 2 months for epidermal diseases (lymphocystis, skin ulcers, fin rot) and then released. In addition, every 6 months, random samples of fish from all three mesocosms were sacrificed for histological and chemical investigation. With regard to the development of epidermal disease, the results showed little difference between the reference mesocosm and the indirectly polluted mesocosm, with the exception that lymphocystis was significantly elevated in the indirectly polluted mesocosm. Although pollution may be a risk factor in the etiology of this disease, such a relationship would probably be obscured under field conditions due to variation arising from other factors. Histopathological analysis of the livers revealed in total four cases of hepatocellular adenoma (1.5% of sampled population) in fish from the polluted mesocosms, the first occurring after 2.5 years of exposure in fish from the indirectly polluted mesocosm. Furthermore, several other liver lesions, including foci of cellular alteration and hydropic vacuolated lesions, developed during the course of the experiment before tumor formation was apparent. Prevalences of these conditions were very much lower in the reference mesocosm than in the two polluted mesocosms. Densities of melanomacrophage centers in the liver showed a similar trend. The findings clearly indicate that long-term exposure to chemically contaminated dredged spoil can induce liver neoplasia and other liver lesions in flounder at contaminant levels comparable to those found in the natural environment.

Short TitleEnvironmental Health Perspectives