Influence of acclimation and cross-acclimation of metals on acute Cd toxicity and Cd uptake and distribution in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

James C. McGeer, Sunita Nadella, Derek H. Alsop, Lydia Hollis, Lisa N. Taylor, D. Gordon McDonald, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The development of chronic metal toxicity models for fresh water fish is complicated by the physiological adjustments made by the animal during exposure which results in acclimation. This study examines the influence of a pre-exposure to a chronic sublethal waterborne metal on acclimation responses as well as the uptake and distribution of new metal into juvenile rainbow trout. In one series of tests, trout were exposed to either 20 or 60 μg/L Cu, or 150 μg/L Zn for a month in moderately hard water and then cross-acclimation responses to Cd were measured in 96 h LC50 tests. Cu exposed trout showed a cross-acclimation response but Zn exposed trout did not. Using these results, a detailed examination of Cd uptake and tissue distribution in metal-acclimated trout was done. Trout were exposed to either 75 μg/L Cu or 3 μg/L Cd for 1 month to induce acclimation and subsequently, the uptake and distribution of new Cd was assessed in both Cd- and Cu-acclimated fish using 109Cd. The pattern of accumulation of new metal was dramatically altered in acclimated fish. For example, in 3 h gill Cd binding experiments, Cd- and Cu-acclimated trout both had a higher capacity to accumulate new Cd but only Cu-acclimated fish showed a higher affinity for Cd compared to unexposed controls. Experiments measuring Cd uptake over 72 h at 3 μg Cd/L showed that the Cd uptake rate was lower for Cd-acclimated fish compared to both Cu-acclimated fish and unexposed controls. The results demonstrate the phenomenon of cross-acclimation to Cd and that chronic sublethal exposure to one metal can alter the uptake and tissue distribution of another. Understanding how acclimation influences toxicity and bioaccumulation is important in the context of risk assessment. This study illustrates that knowledge of previous exposure conditions is essential, not only for the metal of concern, but also for other metals as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-197
Number of pages8
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number2 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Aug 30 2007


  • Acclimation
  • Cadmium
  • Chronic
  • Copper
  • Rainbow trout
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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