Sublethal effects of chromium-VI in the Asian clam (Potamocorbula amurensis)

Swee J Teh, I. Werner, D. E. Hinton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Previously, we have shown that Asian clams (Potamocorbula amurensis) with highest metallic body burdens have highest prevalence of disease and lowest reproduction. The present study was designed to assess and validate potential sublethal toxicity of hexavalent chromium (Cr-VI) in clams under controlled laboratory exposure. For 7 days, three replicates of clam (n=10 per replicate) were exposed to aqueous solution containing 0.00, 0.92, 8.40, or 25.6 mg l-1 of Cr-VI at 15°C and 15 g l-1 salinity. Mortality reached 100% in the 25.6 mg l-1 group within 7 days. There was no significant difference in mortality among the control, 0.92, and 8.40 mg l-1 groups. Western blot analyses revealed significantly elevated stress protein hsp70 levels in the 8.40 mg l-1 treatment group. Histopathologic analyses revealed mild digestive gland (DG) atrophy in the control group. Clams exposed to 0.92 mg l-1 Cr-VI showed moderate DG atrophy, moderate granulomatous inflammation and necrosis in DG, ovary and testis. Lesions observed in the 8.40 mg l-1 treatment group included severe DG atrophy, severe granulomatous inflammation and necrosis in byssal gland, DG, gill, kidney, ovary and testis. In gills and testes of treated groups, apoptotic cells outnumbered mitotic cells. In addition, gills from clams in the 8.40 mg l-1 group showed enhanced hsp70 staining. Our studies support a cause-effect relationship between contaminants and reduced health in Asian clams and indicate the DGs, gills, and reproductive organs are principal targets of Cr-VI toxicity at sublethal concentrations. Results from this study suggest that Cr-VI may have played a role in the increased incidence of diseased clams seen in previous studies and these adverse effects may be working to decrease clam populations at sites with highest metallic contamination in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-300
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number1-5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Clams
  • Histopathology
  • Metals
  • Sublethal effects
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Science(all)


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