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See detailDynamics of trace elements in grey seals throughout the lactation period
Habran, Sarah ULg; Pomeroy, P. P.; Debier, Cathy et al

Conference (2011, May 17)

The effects of reproduction and maternal investment (i.e. milk transfer) on trace element levels remain poorly understood in marine mammals. We examined the blood dynamics of Cd, Pb, Hg, Cr, Ni, V, Zn, Cu ... [more ▼]

The effects of reproduction and maternal investment (i.e. milk transfer) on trace element levels remain poorly understood in marine mammals. We examined the blood dynamics of Cd, Pb, Hg, Cr, Ni, V, Zn, Cu, Fe, Ca and Se throughout lactation in a top predator from the North Sea, the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). Trace element levels were measured in blood and milk of 21 mother-pup pairs in early and late lactation. Maternal hair and natal fur (lanugo) were also collected and analyzed. Trace element levels in blood decreased according to the following pattern: Fe > Ca > Zn > Se > Cu > Hg > Pb > Cr > V in mothers and pups. Cd and Ni were not detected in blood. The substantial levels measured in lanugo indicate nevertheless that all trace elements (including Cd and Ni) were transferred to offspring through the placenta. In maternal hair, Pb levels (~ 2.2 mg/kg dw) were relatively high in comparison with other phocid species. All trace elements, except Cd, were detected in the milk showing a transmammary transfer to offspring, especially for elements such as Ca, Se, V, Ni and Pb. Hg showed the highest levels in blood (up to 0.25 mg/kg ww) and hair (up to 21 mg/kg dw) from the non-essential and toxic metals measured. Levels of Hg and essential elements (Ca, Fe, Zn, Cu and Se) in blood and milk showed significant variations throughout the lactation period. Therefore, physiological processes such as lactation affect trace element levels in tissues of mother and pup elephant seals. Such processes and its relationship to body condition should be considered carefully when interpreting trace element levels in the framework of biomonitoring. [less ▲]

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See detailAn unexpected parallelism between Vitamin A and PCBs in seal milk
Debier, C.; Pomeroy, P. P.; Thomé, Jean-Pierre ULg et al

in Aquatic Toxicology (2004), 68(2), 179-183

Bioaccumulating pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) induce a range of adverse effects in mammals. Vitamin A metabolism is prone to such pollutant disruption which may be particularly ... [more ▼]

Bioaccumulating pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) induce a range of adverse effects in mammals. Vitamin A metabolism is prone to such pollutant disruption which may be particularly harmful for young animals. During lactation, maternal PCBs are transferred to the offspring through the milk. Seal milk is very fatty and consequently contains large amounts of these persistent lipophilic contaminants. In the present study, we investigated the relationships between PCBs and Vitamins A and E during lactation, in free-ranging grey seals, using longitudinal samples of milk and blubber. We discovered that, unlike Vitamin E or triglycerides, the dynamics of Vitamin A matches closely those of PCBs in milk throughout lactation. Levels of Vitamin A and PCBs remain constant during the first half of lactation and then increase at late lactation, indicating that pups ingesting higher levels of PCBs also ingest higher amounts of Vitamin A. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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