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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Thyroid function and immune status in perch (Perca fluviatilis) from lakes contaminated with PFASs or PCBs

Birgersson, Lina; Jouve, Justin; Jonsson, Elisabeth; Asker, Noomi; Andreasson, Fredrik; Golovko, Oksana; Ahrens, Lutz; Sturve, Joachim


The environment contains a multitude of man-made chemicals, some of which can act as endocrine disruptors (EDCs), while others can be immunotoxic. We evaluated thyroid disruption and immunotoxic effects in wild female perch (Perca fluviatilis) collected from two contaminated areas in Sweden; one site contaminated with perand polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and two sites contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), with one reference site included for each area. The hepatic mRNA expression of thyroid receptors alpha and beta, and the thyroid hormone metabolising iodothyronine deiodinases (dio1, dio2 and dio3) were measured using real-time PCR, while the levels of thyroid hormone T3 in plasma was analysed using a radioimmunoassay. In addition, lymphocytes, granulocytes, and thrombocytes were counted microscopically. Our results showed lower levels of T3 as well as lower amounts of lymphocytes and granulocytes in perch collected from the PFAS-contaminated site compared to reference sites. In addition, expressions of mRNA coding for thyroid hormone metabolising enzymes (dio2 and dio3) and thyroid receptor alpha (thra) were significantly different in these fish compared to their reference site. For perch collected at the two PCB-contaminated sites, there were no significant differences in T3 levels or in expression levels of the thyroid-related genes, compared to the reference fish. Fish from one of the PCB-contaminated sites had higher levels of thrombocytes compared with both the second PCB lake and their reference lake; hence PCBs are unlikely to be the cause of this effect. The current study suggests that lifelong exposure to PFASs could affect both the thyroid hormone status and immune defence of perch in the wild.


European perch; Thyroid disruption; Immunotoxicity PFASs; PCBs

Published in

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
2021, volume: 222, article number: 112495

Authors' information

Birgersson, Lina
University of Gothenburg
Jouve, Justin
University of Gothenburg
Jonsson, Elisabeth
University of Gothenburg
Asker, Noomi
University of Gothenburg
Andreasson, Fredrik
County Administrative Board of Blekinge
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Sturve, Joachim
University of Gothenburg

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water
SDG14 Life below water

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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