Contaminants in Atlantic walruses Part 2: Relationships with endocrine and immune systems
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AuthorRoutti, Heli; Diot, Beatrice; Panti, Cristina; Duale, Nur; Fossi, Maria Cristina; Harju, Mikael; Kovacs, Kit M.; Lydersen, Christian; Scotter, Sophie; Villanger, Gro Dehli; Bourgeon, Sophie
Marine mammals in the Barents Sea region have among the highest levels of contaminants recorded in the Arctic and the Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) is one of the most contaminated species within this region. We therefore investigated the relationships bewteen blubber concentrations of lipophilic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and plasma concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and markers of endocrine and immune functions in adult male Atlantic walruses (n = 38) from Svalbard, Norway. To do so, we assessed plasma concentrations of five forms of thyroid hormones and transcript levels of genes related to the endocrine and immune systems as endpoints; transcript levels of seven genes in blubber and 23 genes in blood cells were studied. Results indicated that plasma total thyroxine (TT4) concentrations decreased with increasing blubber concentrations of lipophilic POPs. Blood cell transcript levels of genes involved in the function of T and B cells (FC like receptors 2 and 5, cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated protein 4 and protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22) were increased with plasma PFAS concentrations. These results suggest that changes in thyroid and immune systems in adult male walruses are linked to current levels of contaminant exposure.