Prolonged phenanthrene exposure reduces cardiac function but fails to mount a significant oxidative stress response in the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Martins Oshioriamhe Ainerua
  • Jake Tinwell
  • Rory Murphy


Crustaceans are important ecosystem bio-indicators but their response to pollutants such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) remains understudied, particularly in freshwater habitats. Here we investigated the effect of phenanthrene (at 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 mg L-1), a 3-ringed PAH associated with petroleum-based aquatic pollution on survival, in vivo and in situ cardiac performance, the oxidative stress response and the tissue burden in the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). Non-invasive sensors were used to monitor heart rate during exposure. Phenanthrene reduced maximum attainable heart rate in the latter half (days 8-15) of the exposure period but had no impact on routine heart rate. At the end of the 15-day exposure period, the electrical activity of the semi-isolated in situ crayfish heart was assessed and significant prolongation of the QT interval of the electrocardiogram was observed. Enzyme pathways associated with oxidative stress (superoxide dismutase and total oxyradical scavenging capacity) were also assessed after 15 days of phenanthrene exposure in gill, hepatopancreas and skeletal muscle; the results suggest limited induction of protective antioxidant pathways. Lastly, we report that 15 days exposure caused a dose-dependent increase in phenanthrene in hepatopancreas and heart tissues which was associated with reduced survivability. To our knowledge, this study is the first to provide such a thorough understanding of the impact of phenanthrene on a crustacean.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129297
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2020