A study was made on the accumulation, distribution and effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the sea star Asterias rubens. Sea stars were exposed for five or seven months to PCBs by a diet of mussels which had been fed with Clophen A50-contaminated algae.
Seasonal changes of the PCB concentrations in pyloric caeca from unexposed sea stars and differences between the PCB contents of different organs were found to be related mainly to variations and differences in the lipid contents. During PCB exposure via the foodchain, an almost linear increase of the PCB concentration in pyloric caeca and gonads of the sea star was found. After seven months of exposure, the gonads of male and female sea stars contained respectively 26 and 43% of the total amount of accumulated PCBs. The PCBs were present in the oocytes and spermatozoa from exposed animals at levels comparable to those found for whole gonads. The PCB levels in experimentally exposed sea stars were found to be similar to those in animals collected directly from the polluted Dutch Western Scheldt.
In PCB-exposed female sea stars, the gonad indices at the end of the reproductive cycle were significantly lower than in unexposed animals. No effects were found on the size of the oocytes or on the biochemical composition with respect to the overall glycogen, lipid or protein levels and SDS-PAGE protein patterns. The gonad indices of PCB-exposed male sea stars were not different from those of unexposed animals.
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