Biochemical, Histopathological and Molecular Responses in Gills of Leuciscus Cephalus Exposed to Metals

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2017 Nov;73(4):607-618. doi: 10.1007/s00244-017-0450-5. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Gills are major targets for acute metal toxicity in fish, due to their permanent contact with aquatic pollutants. To assess the effects of metals on gills of the Leuciscus cephalus (chub), fish individuals were collected from two sites in the Tur River, Romania, in upstream (site 1) and downstream (site 2) of a metal pollution source. Quantitative and hyperspectral analyses showed that Zn, Sr, and Fe concentrations were significantly higher in gills from site 2 compared with site 1. Malondialdehyde and advanced oxidation protein products levels increased 17 and 28%, respectively, whereas reduced glutathione level diminished significantly in the gills of fish collected from site 2 compared to site 1. The activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione-S-transferase increased significantly at 41, 21, and 28%, respectively. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) protein levels, as well as the amount of DNA damage, were significantly increased for site 2 compared with site 1. The induced oxidative stress generated hyperplasia, hypertrophy, and inflammation in the epithelial cells and apoptosis. Hence, this could suggest that gill cells have tried to counteract the oxidative stress-induced DNA fragmentation by PCNA up-regulation, but the PCNA expression decreased on longer time due to the low level of GSH, resulting in apoptosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyprinidae / physiology*
  • Gills / drug effects*
  • Gills / pathology
  • Gills / physiology
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Metals / metabolism
  • Metals / toxicity*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Metals
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione