[en] grey seal females ; lactation ; POPs ; metabolites ; vitamin A
[en] Polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), polybromodiphenylethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are considered to be endocrine disruptors in laboratory and wild animals. This study investigated whether these compounds and their hydroxylated metabolites (HO-PCBs and HO-PBDEs) may affect the homeostasis of vitamin A, a dietary hormone, in the blubber and serum of twenty lactating grey seals sampled at early and late lactation on the Isle of May, Scotland. The effect of naturally produced compounds such as the methoxylated (MeO)-PBDEs was also examined. Vitamin A levels in inner blubber (37 ± 9 µg/g wet weight (ww) and 92 ± 32 µg/g ww at early and late lactation, respectively) and serum (408 ± 143 ng/ml and 390 ± 98 ng/ml at early and late lactation, respectively) appeared to be positively related to ΣPCBs, ΣPBDEs and several individual PCB and PBDE congeners in inner blubber and serum. These findings may suggest an enhanced mobilisation of hepatic retinoid stores and a redistribution in the blubber, a storage site for vitamin A in marine mammals, before the onset of lactation. We also reported that serum concentrations of ΣHO-PCBs and 4-OH-CB107 tended to increase circulating vitamin A levels. Although the direction of the relationships may sometimes differ from those reported in the literature, our results are in agreement with previous findings highlighting a disruption of vitamin A homeostasis in the blubber and bloodstream following exposure to environmental pollutants. Previous studies have shown an interesting parallelism between the mobilisation and transfer of vitamin A and those of PCBs in lactating grey seals, contrary to other lipophilic molecules such as vitamin E (Debier et al. 2004; Vanden Berghe et al. 2010). The fact that vitamin A and PCBs appeared to share common mechanisms during this particular physiological state in grey seals (lactation coupled to a total fasting) may also play a role in the different relationships observed between vitamin A and lipophilic pollutants.