Assessing oxidative stress in Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus): Associations with mercury and selenium concentrations. Academic Article uri icon


  • Selenium (Se) bioavailability is required for synthesis and function of essential Se-dependent antioxidants, including the enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GPx). Strong interactions between monomethyl mercury and Se impair the critical antioxidant role of Se. Approximately 20% of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus, SSL) pups sampled in the western Aleutian Islands, Alaska, had total Hg concentrations ([THg]) measured in hair and whole blood above thresholds of concern for adverse physiologic effects in pinnipeds. Importantly, low molar ratios of TSe:THg, in some cases<1 in several tissues (hair, liver, pelt, muscle, spleen, intestine, heart, lungs, brain) were documented for one SSL pup with [THg] above threshold of concern, which may lead to antioxidant deficiency. Our aim with this study was to evaluate the relationship between circulating [THg], [MeHg+], [TSe] and TSe:THg molar ratio status relative to oxidative stress and antioxidants measured during general anesthesia in free-ranging SSL. We captured, anesthetized and sampled newborn SSL pups at rookeries located in the Aleutian Islands or Gulf of Alaska. Biomarkers analyzed for oxidative stress included 4-hydroxynenonal and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (4-HNE and TBARS, respectively, lipid peroxidation), protein carbonyl content (PCC, protein oxidation), and GPx activity as a key indicator for Se-dependent antioxidant defense levels. We found a negative association between TBARS and [TSe], and SSL with low [TSe] had higher concentrations of 4-HNE than those with intermediate [TSe]. These results suggest that SSL with lower [TSe] experience increased lipid peroxidation potentially associated with [THg] status.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lian, M., Castellini, J. M., Kuhn, T., Rea, L., Bishop, L., Keogh, M., ... O'Hara, T.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Lian, Marianne||Castellini, J Margaret||Kuhn, Thomas||Rea, Lorrie||Bishop, Louise||Keogh, Mandy||Kennedy, Stephanie N||Fadely, Brian||van Wijngaarden, Edwin||Maniscalco, John M||O'Hara, Todd

publication date

  • January 2020