First evidence of polybrominated diphenyl ether (flame retardants) effects in feral barbel from the Ebro River basin (NE, Spain)

Demetrio Raldúa, Francesc Padrós, Montserrat Solé, Ethel Eljarrat, Damià Barceló, Mari Carme Riva, Carlos Barata

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are chemicals of environmental concern due to their lipophilic, persistent and bioaccumulable characteristics as well as for their potential endocrine disrupting role. Former studies carried out in a tributary of the Cinca river (Ebro basin, NE Spain) revealed high levels of PBDEs in fish due to the discharges of effluents rich in PBDEs coming from a nearby industrial park in Barbastro. In this study, several biomarkers of pollutants exposure were measured in barbel, Barbus graellsii, before (upstream) and after (downstream) the main industrial site (Barbastro) in the Vero river. The results evidenced an enhanced hepatic phase I and II metabolism (measured as reductases, glutathione S transferase and uridinediphospho-glucuronosyltransferase), and of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Conversely, fishes collected from downstream reaches had their phase I CYP1A dependent ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase, antioxidant diaphorase and brain cholinesterase activities depleted. In addition, the histological study of the liver and kidney of these fish evidenced an increase of the number and size of macrophage aggregates in most individuals collected downstream. Bivariate correlated analyses showed that the above mentioned biomarkers were correlated to measured PBDE congeners, thus indicating that the observed biological effects were unlikely to be related to other environmental factors than PBDEs. Overall, the measured biochemical and histological markers provide new evidence that in field exposed fish, PBDEs levels were associated with high activities of phase I and II metabolic enzymes, oxidative stress in liver, neurotoxicity in brain and histopathological effects in both liver and kidney. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-64
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Barbus graellsii
  • Ebro river
  • EROD
  • Macrophage aggregates
  • PBDE


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