Alterations of cytochrome P450 and the occurrence of persistent organic pollutants in tilapia caged in the reservoirs of the Iguaçu River.
Environmental chemicals originating from human activities, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), may interfere with the endocrine system of aquatic organisms. The effect of these chemicals on biota and human populations is of high public concern but remains poorly understood, especially in aquatic environments of South America. The aim of this study was to investigate the bioavailability of POPs and the related effects in caged male tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in four cascading reservoirs of the Iguaçu River, Southern Brazil. POPs including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were determined in the reservoir water and tissue samples of tilapia after two months of exposure. The PCB levels in water (14.7 ng L-1) were 14 times higher than the limits permitted by the Brazilian legislation in the Salto Santiago (SS) reservoir. Similarly, concentrations of aldrin and its metabolites (6.05 ng L-1) detected in the water sample of the Salto Osório (SO) reservoir were also above the permitted limits. RT-qPCR analysis revealed different transcript levels of cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYP1A and CYP3A) in the liver among the four groups, with induced activity in tilapia from the SS reservoir. Quantification of the CYP3A mRNA expression and catalytic activity showed higher values for fish caged at the SS reservoir. The fish from this site also had a higher number of eosinophils observed in the testes. Although overt measurements of endocrine disruption were not observed in caged fish, alteration of CYP enzymes with co-occurrence of organochlorine contaminants in water may suggest bioavailability of contaminants from agricultural sources to biota. Additional studies with feral or caged animals for a longer duration may be necessary to evaluate the risks of the waterways to humans and wildlife.