MEPS 236:155-161 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps236155

Very low levels of waterborne butyltins modulate hemocyte function in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis

S. D. St-Jean1,2, É. Pelletier2,*, S. C. Courtenay1

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Fisheries Centre, PO Box 5030, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9B6, Canada
2Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER), Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Hemocyte functions were used to determine the effect of very low concentrations (1, 3 and 6 ngSn l-1) of tributyltin (TBT) and dibutyltin (DBT) on the internal defense of adult blue mussel Mytilus edulis under flow-through conditions over 11 d. Hemolymph was sampled without harming mussels on Days 0, 1, 4 and 11 for measures of hemocyte count (HC), lysosome retention (LR) and phagocytic activity (PA). HC was increased from Day 1 by TBT at 6 ng l-1 and by DBT at 3 and 6 ng l-1 on Day 11. LR was increased by both butyltins at concentrations as low as 1 ng l-1 from Day 4. PA was increased by DBT at 6 ng l-1 from Day 4. No difference was detected between the impacts of TBT and DBT on LR but TBT had a greater impact on HC and DBT had a greater impact on PA. These results support the hypothesis that both TBT and DBT can cause modulations of the internal defense system of mussels at concentrations as low as 1 ngSn l-1 after only a few days of continuous exposure.


KEY WORDS: Immunotoxicity · Butyltins · TBT · DBT · Mussels · Hemocyte · Functions · Low level exposure · LOEL


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