[en] Common guillemot ; Belgian coast ; Metallothionein ; Cu ; Cachexia
[en] The common guillemots, Uria aalge, found stranded at the Belgian coast, display high levels of Cu in both liver and kidneys. The condition index of the animals, defined as the ratio of liver to kidneys mass (Wenzel & Adelung, 1996), influences both the metal concentration and its binding to metallothioneins (MT): the lower the condition index, the more emaciated the animals, and the higher the total Cu concentration and the concentration of Cu bound to MT. In less robust individuals, our results suggest that Cu could displaces Zn from MT rendering the Zn ions available to induce a new MT synthesis. Sex related effects also emerged as significantly higher hepatic MT as well as Cu- and Zn-MT concentrations were found in emaciated male guillemots compared to females. In both organs, Cd concentrations remained low and typically demonstrated an age-dependent renal accumulation, with no noticeable effect of the condition index. As a whole, these results suggest that, for guillemots found stranded at the Belgian coast, Cu binding to hepatic and renal MT could function as a protective mechanism, rendering the metal ions unavailable to exert any cytotoxic activity.
´Impulse Programme in Marine Sciences supported by the Belgian state - The Prime Minister’s Services - Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs.’ (MS/12/032, MS/12/033, MN/DD/50 and MN/DD/51).