1 Grupo de Investigación en Biotecnología y Toxicología Acuática y Ambiental - BioTox, Escuela de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Recursos Naturales, Universidad de los Llanos, Km 12 vía Puerto López, vereda Barcelona, Villavicencio, Colombia

2 Unidad de Saneamiento y Biotecnología Ambiental, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cra. 7 N. 43-82, Bogotá, Colombia

3 Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), CSIC. Ctra. De la Coruña Km 7.5, E-28040, Madrid, Spain


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are present in all environmental matrices. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons-rich wastewater from the oil industry is discharged into natural water bodies. Detritivorous fish shown the effects of pollutants in water. Biomarkers of effect make it possible to demonstrate exposure to xenobiotics such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the hepatic and erythrocyte response in Aequidens metae, a detritivorous fish, exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in terms of morphological, biochemical, and genotoxic changes.
METHODS: Juveniles of Aequidens metae were exposed to 50 microgram per gram body weight of beta-naphthoflavone, 100 microgram per gram of naphthalene, 50 microgram per gram of phenanthrene and 10 microgram per gram of benzo[a]pyrene, for 72 hours. Water quality variables, total protein content, 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity, liver histopathological changes and genotoxic alterations in peripheral blood were measured during the assay.
FINDING: In polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons-exposed fish, analysis of liver tissue revealed parenchymal lesions and changes in the number and shape of hepatocyte nuclei. On the other hand, only fish exposed to benzo[a]pyrene shown significant increase in the 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity compared to solvent control. In peripheral blood erythrocytes, increased presence of nuclear abnormalities was higher in fish exposed to phenanthrene, followed by benzo[a]pyrene, beta-naphthoflavone, and naphthalene.
CONCLUSIONS: It is concluded that Aequidens metae is a suitable bioindicator for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons monitoring in aquatic ecosystems. Phenanthrene reveals for the first time a greater genotoxic effect than benzo[a]pyrene at sublethal concentrations. Juveniles of Aequidens metae exposed to concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons close to those found in the environment showed health-compromising damage.

Graphical Abstract

Acute effects on hepatic biomarkers in the freshwater native fish Aequidens metae exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


  • At sublethal doses phenanthrene, benzo[a]pyrene and naphthalene induce nuclear abnormalities in peripheral blood of juvenile Aequidens metae;
  • Benzo[a]pyrene and B-naphthoflavone induce at realistic environmental concentrations EROD activity in liver of metae;
  • Intraperitoneal exposure to BaP, phenanthrene and naphthalene induces reversible moderate alterations in liver of metae.


Main Subjects


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