Systemic effects of Arctic pollutants in beluga whales indicated by CYP1A1 expression

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Wilson, Joanna Y.
Cooke, Suzy R.
Moore, Michael J.
Martineau, Daniel
Mikaelian, Igor
Metner, Donald A.
Lockhart, W. Lyle
Stegeman, John J.
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Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1)
Beluga whales
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Planar halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs)
Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) is induced by exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and planar halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs) such as non-ortho polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In this study, we examined CYP1A1 protein expression immunohistochemically in multiple organs of beluga whales from two locations in the Arctic and from the St. Lawrence estuary. These beluga populations have some of the lowest (Arctic sites) and highest (St. Lawrence estuary) concentrations of PCBs in blubber of all cetaceans. Samples from these populations might be expected to have different contaminant-induced responses, reflecting their different exposure histories. The pattern and extent of CYP1A1 staining in whales from all three locations were similar to those seen in animal models in which CYP1A has been highly induced, indicating a high-level expression in these whales. CYP1A1 induction has been related to toxic effects of PHAHs or PAHs in some species. In St. Lawrence beluga, the high level of CYP1A1 expression coupled with high levels of contaminants (including CYP1A1 substrates, e.g., PAH procarcinogens potentially activated by CYP1A1) indicates that CYP1A1 could be involved in the development of neoplastic lesions seen in the St. Lawrence beluga population. The systemic high-level expression of CYP1A1 in Arctic beluga suggests that effects of PAHs or PHAHs may be expected in Arctic populations, as well. The high-level expression of CYP1A1 in the Arctic beluga suggests that this species is highly sensitive to CYP1A1 induction by aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists.
Author Posting. EHP is a publication of the United States government. Publication of EHP lies in the public domain and is therefore without copyright. The definitive version was published in Environmental Health Perspectives 113 (2005): 1594-1599, doi:10.1289/ehp.7664.
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Environmental Health Perspectives 113 (2005): 1594-1599
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