The Shenandoah River (VA, USA), the largest tributary of the Potomac River (MD, USA) and an important source of drinking water, has been the site of extensive fish kills since 2004. Previous investigations indicate environmental stressors may be adversely modulating the immune system of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and other species. Anterior kidney (AK) tissue, the major site of blood cell production in fish, was collected from smallmouth bass at three sites along the Shenandoah River. The tissue was divided for immune function and proteomics analyses. Bactericidal activity and respiratory burst were significantly different between North Fork and mainstem Shenandoah River smallmouth bass, whereas South Fork AK tissue did not significantly differ in either of these measures compared with the other sites. Cytotoxic cell activity was highest among South Fork and lowest among North Fork AK leukocytes. The composite two-dimension gels of the North Fork and mainstem smallmouth bass AK tissues contained 584 and 591 spots, respectively. South Fork smallmouth bass AK expressed only 335 proteins. Nineteen of 50 proteins analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight were successfully identified. Three of the four identified proteins with increased expression in South Fork AK tissue were involved in metabolism. Seven proteins exclusive to mainstem and North Fork smallmouth bass AK and expressed at comparable abundances serve immune and stress response functions. The proteomics data indicate these fish differ in metabolic capacity of AK tissue and in the ability to produce functional leukocytes. The variable responses of the immune function assays further indicate disruption to the immune system. Our results allow us to hypothesize underlying physiological changes that may relate to fish kills and suggest relevant contaminants known to produce similar physiological disruption.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis