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Organochlorine-Associated Immunosuppression in Prefledgling Caspian Terns and Herring Gulls from the Great Lakes: An Ecoepidemiological Study

Keith A. Grasman, Glen A. Fox, Patrick F. Scanlon and James P. Ludwig
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 104, Supplement 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 829-842
DOI: 10.2307/3432714
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3432714
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Organochlorine-Associated Immunosuppression in Prefledgling Caspian Terns and Herring Gulls from the Great Lakes: An Ecoepidemiological Study
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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to determine whether contaminant-associated immunosuppression occurs in prefledgling herring gulls and Caspian terms from the Great Lakes and to evaluate immunological biomarkers for monitoring health effects in wild birds. During 1992 to 1994, immunological responses and related variables were measured in prefledgling chicks at colonies distributed across a broad gradient of organochlorine contamination (primarily polychlorinated biphenyls), which was measured in eggs. The phytohemagglutinin skin test was used to assess T-lymphocyte function. In both species, there was a strong exposure-response relationship between organochlorines and suppressed T-cell-mediated immunity. Suppression was most severe (30-45%) in colonies in Lake Ontario (1992) and Saginaw Bay (1992-1994) for both species and in western Lake Erie (1992) for herring gulls. Both species exhibited biologically significant differences among sites in anti-sheep red blood cells antibody titers, but consistent exposure-response relationships with organochlorines were not observed. In Caspian terns and, to a lesser degree, in herring gulls, there was an exposure-response relationship between organochlorines and reduced plasma retinol (vitamin A). In 1992, altered white blood cell numbers were associated with elevated organochlorine concentrations in Caspian terns but not herring gulls. The immunological and hematological biomarkers used in this study revealed contaminant-associated health effects in wild birds. An epidemiological analysis strongly supported the hypothesis that suppression of T-cell-mediated immunity was associated with high perinatal exposure to persistent organochlorine contaminants.

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