Hydroxylated and methyl sulfone PCB metabolites in adipose and whole blood of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from East Greenland.Sci Total Environ. 2004 Sep 20; 331(1-3):125-41.ST
Persistent methyl sulfone (MeSO2-) and hydroxylated (HO-) polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) metabolites have emerged as important classes of environmental contaminants in vertebrate, aquatic biota and humans. In the present study, PCB, MeSO2-PCB and HO-PCB concentrations and congener patterns were determined in the whole blood and adipose tissue of male (n = 7) and female (n = 12) polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of random age (3-25 years of age), and collected in 1999-2001 from the Ittoqqortoormiit/Scoresby Sound area in central East Greenland. There was no significant difference (P < 0.05) between males and females with respect to PCB or PCB metabolite concentrations in either tissue. The mean sum (Sigma) PCB concentrations were 7020+/-3366 ng/g lipid weight (lw) (range 2708-18148 ng/g lw) and 46.1+/-44.6 ng/g wet weight (ww) (range 12.6-204.2 ng/g ww) in adipose and blood, respectively. The mean Sigma-HO-PCB concentration in whole blood was 182.3+/-72.1 ng/g ww (range 93.8-382.1 ng/g ww). The mean Sigma-HO-PCB to Sigma-PCB concentration ratios in whole blood were 4.59+/-3.58 (range 1.03-11.88) and 8.30+/-5.56 (range 2.16-19.47) in females and males, respectively, which are the highest ratios reported so far for polar bears from any population, or for any free-ranging animal. Sigma-HO-PCB concentrations were greater than all other major classes of organochlorines (i.e. Sigma-PCBs, Sigma-MeSO2-PCBs, Sigma-chlordanes (CHLs), Sigma-hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) and Sigma-chlorobenzenes (CBzs). The mean Sigma-MeSO2-PCB concentrations were 699+/-836 ng/g lw (range 127-3920 ng/g lw) and 10.9+/-9.6 ng/g ww (range 4.3-52.1 ng/g ww) in the adipose and blood, respectively. Regardless of age and sex, in both adipose and whole blood the MeSO2-PCB congener pattern was dominated by 3'- and 4'-MeSO2-CB101 and -CB87, and 4-MeSO2-CB149 (approx. 70% of the Sigma-MeSO2-PCBs). Minor differences in the MeSO2-PCB congener pattern were observed between blood and adipose, which suggests the possible influence of metabolite structure on mobilization and/or deposition to the adipose tissue. Sixteen HO-PCB congeners and one di-HO-PCB congener were identified, and five HO-PCB isomers and one di-HO-PCB isomer were detected. However, congener patterns were dominated by 4'-OH-CB120, 4-HO-CB146/3-HO-CB153, 4-OH-CB187, 4'-HO-CB172, 4-HO-CB193 and 4,4'-di-HO-CB202 (> 10 ng/g ww). HO-PCB congener patterns in whole blood were not significantly different (P < 0.05) between males and females. Other chlorinated phenolic contaminants, pentachlorophenol (0.3+/-0.3 ng/g ww) and 4-HO-heptachlorostyrene (7.5+/-2.9 ng/g ww) were also detected in blood. To our knowledge, this is to first report comparing PCBs, MeSO2-PCBs and HO-PCBs in whole blood and adipose tissue in a free-ranging wildlife species. HO-PCBs and MeSO2-PCBs are both important circulating contaminants in polar bears from this eastern Greenland population. Given the known toxicities of PCB metabolites, this population of polar bear may be experiencing health risks due to exposure to a complex loading of organohalogen contaminants that include HO-PCB and MeSO2-PCB metabolites.