Acute exposure to offshore produced water has an effect on stress- and secondary stress responses in three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus
Anne Christine Knag and Annette Taugbøl in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology
Anne Christine Knag and Annette Taugbøl
Pollution is one of today's greatest problems, and the release of contaminants into the environment can cause adverse changes in vitally important biological pathways. In this study, we exposed three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus to produced water (PW), i.e. wastewater from offshore petroleum production. PW contains substances such as alkylphenols (APs) and aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) known to induce toxicant stress and endocrine disruption in a variety of organisms. Following exposure to PW, a standardized confinement treatment was applied as a second stressor (PW-stress), testing how fish already under stress from the pollutant would respond to an additional stressor. The endpoint for analysis was a combination of blood levels of cortisol and glucose, in addition to transcribed levels of a set of genes related to toxicant stress, endocrine disruption and general stress. The findings of this study indicate that low doses of PW do not induce vitellogenin in immature female stickleback, but do cause an upregulation of cytochrome (CYP1A) and UDP-glucuronsyltransferase (UDP-GT), two biomarkers related to toxicant stress. However, when the second stressor was applied, both genes were downregulated, indicating that the confinement exposure had a suppressive effect on the expression of toxicant biomarkers (CYP1A and UDP-GT). Further, two of the stress related genes, heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) and stress-induced phosphoprotein (STIP), were upregulated in both PW- and PW-stress-treatment, but not in the water control confinement treatment, indicating that PW posed as a larger stress-factor than confinement for these genes. The confinement stressor caused an increased level of glucose in both control and PW-treated fish, indicating hyperglycemia, a commonly reported stress response in fish.