A novel use of the leukocyte coping capacity assay to assess the immunomodulatory effects of organohalogenated contaminants in avian wildlife

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  • Elisabeth Hansen, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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  • Nikolaus Huber, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
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  • Jan O. Bustnes, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
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  • Dorte Herzke, Norwegian Institute for Air Research
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  • Bård Jørgen Bårdsen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
  • ,
  • Igor Eulaers
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  • Trond V. Johnsen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
  • ,
  • Sophie Bourgeon, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Apex predators are characterized by high levels of biomagnifying organohalogenated contaminants (OHCs) which have been found to induce detrimental health effects in wildlife, such as immune system impairment. The leukocyte coping capacity (LCC) assay is a functional real-time measure of an innate immune response essential in pathogen resistance, known as the respiratory burst. The current study suggests the novel use of this tool to test whether OHCs impair the innate immune system of a sentinel top predator, the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla; WTE). The LCC analysis was performed in the field on WTE nestlings (n = 84) from northern Norway over two breeding seasons. Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) dominated the total OHC load, surpassing the levels of legacy organochlorines. In addition, we detected significant negative correlations between concentrations of all polychlorinated biphenyls, p,p′-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, perfluorohexane sulfonic acid and long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids and the LCC of WTE nestlings. Based on our current findings reflecting a potential negative effect of both emerging and legacy OHCs on innate immune capacity, we suggest LCC to be a relevant and accessible test expanding the ecotoxicological toolbox to assess sub-lethal effects of OHCs in apex avian wildlife.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105861
JournalEnvironment International
Volume142
Number of pages8
ISSN0160-4120
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • Bird of prey, Innate immune system, Organochlorines, Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, Sub-lethal effects, White-tailed eagle

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