Are metal-induced hypersensitivities in harbor seals associated with liver function?


Environmental exposure to metals is believed to affect marine mammal health adversely including immunosuppression or acute as well as chronic inflammatory processes leading to hypersensitivities or autoimmune diseases. Metal-specific hypersensitivities were found in several pinnipeds of the North Sea. However, hypersensitivity is a complex phenomenon whose characteristics are still not completely understood; in particular, effects on health are not well established. In the present study, we compared basic hematological and biochemical parameters of seals with and without metal-specific hypersensitivities. We found altered hematological parameters and liver enzyme patterns in seals with a metal-induced hypersensitivity, including a reduction in macrophages, an increase in lymphocytes, and elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase. These findings support the suggestion of a chronic influence of metal pollutants on the health of marine mammals of the North Sea.v
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