Salinity-dependent nickel accumulation and oxidative stress responses in the euryhaline killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

Tamzin A. Blewett, Chris M. Wood

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21 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of nickel (Ni) toxicity in marine fish remain unclear, although evidence from freshwater (FW) fish suggests that Ni can act as a pro-oxidant. This study investigated the oxidative stress effects of Ni on the euryhaline killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) as a function of salinity. Killifish were exposed to sublethal levels (5, 10, and 20 mg L(-1)) of waterborne Ni for 96 h in FW (0 ppt) and 100 % saltwater (SW) (35 ppt). In general, SW was protective against both Ni accumulation and indicators of oxidative stress [protein carbonyl formation and catalase (CAT) activity]. This effect was most pronounced at the highest Ni exposure level. For example, FW intestine showed increased Ni accumulation relative to SW intestine at 20 mg Ni L(-1), and this was accompanied by significantly greater protein carbonylation and CAT activity in this tissue. There were exceptions, however, in that although liver of FW killifish at the highest exposure concentration showed greater Ni accumulation relative to SW liver, levels of CAT activity were greatly decreased. This may relate to tissue- and salinity-specific differences in oxidative stress responses. The results of the present study suggest (1) that there was Ni-induced oxidative stress in killifish, (2) that the effects of salinity depend on differences in the physiology of the fish in FW versus SW, and (3) that increased levels of cations (sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and anions (SO4 and Cl) in SW are likely protective against Ni accumulation in tissues exposed to the aquatic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-394
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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