Tissue-specific cadmium and metallothionein levels in rainbow trout chronically acclimated to waterborne or dietary cadmium

M. J. Chowdhury, B. Baldisserotto, C. M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Rainbow trout were exposed to a sublethal concentration of waterborne Cd (0 or 3 μg/L) or dietary Cd (0 or 500 mg/kg dry wt) for 30 days to induce acclimation, and tissue Cd and metallothionein (MT) levels were examined. The greatest Cd concentrations were observed in the kidney followed by the gills and liver of the fish exposed to Cd via water, but in the gut tissues followed by the kidney, liver, and gills for dietary-exposed fish, reflecting a variation depending on the route of Cd exposure. Some MT was found in the nonacclimated naïve fish with no experience of elevated Cd exposure, and these background MT levels were quite high in the posterior intestine (480 μg/g), cecae (257 μg/g), and liver (248 μg/g) relative to other tissues (7-50 μg/g). With exposure to both waterborne and dietary Cd, MT levels rose significantly in all observed tissues. The increases relative to the control levels of MT in naïve fish were in the order: kidney (5.4 times) > gills (4.6) > liver (1.3) for the waterborne exposure group, and in the order kidney (19.3 times) ≫ cecae and posterior intestine (∼6.5 times) > liver and stomach (∼5 times) > midintestine (4.3 times) > gills (2.1 times) for the dietary exposure group. At 24 hours after an acute gastrointestinal dose of Cd (276 μg/kg) infused into the stomach of dietary exposure groups, large increases of total Cd but not MT levels were found in the gut tissues of nonacclimated fish; in the Cd-acclimated fish, the posterior intestine was greatly affected with decreases in Cd (71%), Zn (33%), Cu (70%) and MT (46%) levels, suggesting an enhanced sloughing of tissue materials after infusion. Exposure to Cd did not cause any notable decrease of Zn or Cu in any tissue, except that found in the posterior intestine. However, a molar analysis indicated that although Cd levels remained less than MT binding capacity in both waterborne and dietary exposure groups, the total metal levels (Cd + Zn + Cu) greatly exceeded MT binding capacity in all tissues of Cd-exposed fish, suggesting a potential competition of Cd with other metals for binding sites on MT and non-MT proteins in the tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of environmental contamination and toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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