SREL Reprint #2403




Flow cytometric analysis of erythrocyte and leukocyte DNA in fish from Chernobyl-contaminated ponds in the Ukraine



1Department of Pharmacetitical and Biomedical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Georgia, Athens. GA 30602, USA
2US Fish and Wildlife Service, PO Box 480, Wid-County Center, US Route 17, White Marsh, VA 23183, USA
3PO Box 641, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA
4University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, PO Drawer E. Aiken, SC 29082, USA
5Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
6Institute of Ecology and School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

Received 28 July 1997; accepted 2 March 1998


Flow cytometric (FCM) analysis was used to assess the potential impact of chronic radionuclide exposure in fish populations inhabiting contaminated sites in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Four species of fish, channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), crucian carp (Carassims carassius), carp (Cyprinus carpio) and tench (Tinca tinca), were collected within a lokm radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and compared with 'control' populations from two uncontaminated locations far removed front the plant. Assays of whole blood, as well as separate erythrocyte and leukocyte components, revealed aneuploid-like patterns in the DNA histograms of some fish, as well as widened G0/G1 peaks. None of the fish collected from the uncontaminated sites demonstrated these kinds of changes in their DNA histograms. Increases in the coefficient of variation (CV) of the G0/G1 peak, indicating abnormal DNA distributions, were observed in- several of the fish from Chernobyl relative to the control populations. Cell cycle perturbation in fish from the contaminated sites was also detected, with a higher percentage of cells in G2/M phase relative to the controls. Leukocytes proved more sensitive than erythrocytes, as they displayed a larger number of abnormal DNA histograms. Variations in the cellular DNA content similar to those reported here have been shown for other vertebrate species exposed to radiation and other genotoxic agents in laboratory and field settings.

Keywords: genotoxicity; Chernobyl; fish; flow cytometry; coefficient of variation.

SREL Reprint #2403

Dallas, C.E., S.F. Lingenfelser, J.T. Lingenfelser, K. Holloman, C.H. Jagoe, J.A. Kind, R.K. Chesser, and M.H. Smith. 1998. Flow cytometric analysis of erythrocyte and leukocyte DNA in fish from Chernobyl-contaminated ponds in the Ukraine. Ecotoxicology 7:211-219. 


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