Biomarker sensitivity for polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in two marine fish species collected in Galveston Bay, Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • The Galveston Bay estuary exhibited a contamination gradient for polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, and the comparative sensitivity of various biomarkers in fish from different bay locations were determined. Two fish species, hardhead catfish (Arius felis) and Atlantic croaker (Micropogon undulatus), were collected from four stations where sediment total PAHs ranged from 68 to > 1,000 ng/g. The induction of cytochrome P4501A-(CYPlA-) dependent hepatic ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity, CYP1A mRNA levels, or CYP1A immunoreactive protein in hardhead catfish was highly variable in the field- collected fish and in fish dosed with up to 15 mg/kg benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). In contrast, significant differences were seen in biliary concentrations of naphthalene, phenanthrene, and BaP metabolites in hardhead catfish from polluted versus less polluted areas. In croakers taken from the same four Galveston Bay locations, EROD and glutathione S-transferase activities, immunoreactive CYP1A protein, biliary PAH metabolites, and PAH-DNA adducts were higher at the contaminated stations compared with less polluted locations. These studies suggest that the croaker is a good species for monitoring contaminants that induce CYP1A-mediated responses. Biliary PAH metabolites and PAH-DNA adducts were also sensitive indicators of exposure to PAH contamination in both species of fish.

published proceedings

  • Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

author list (cited authors)

  • Willett, K. L., McDonald, S. J., Steinberg, M. A., Beatty, K. B., Kennicutt, M. C., & Safe, S. H.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Willett, Kristine L||McDonald, Susanne J||Steinberg, Michael A||Beatty, Karla B||Kennicutt, Mahlon C||Safe, Stephen H

publication date

  • July 1997