Cholinesterase activity and histopatological changes in the Mediterranean crab, Carcinus maenas, exposed to environmental contaminants

Sana Ben Khedher, Zohra Haouas, Hamadi Boussetta


Marine environments are continuously being threatened by a large number of pollutants including heavy metals and organophosphorous pesticides from anthropogenic sources. These compounds can cause a serious environmental problem. The present study aimed: (1) to measure sensitivity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity to in vivo exposure to the organophosphorous chlorpyriphos-ethyl (CPF) and to the heavy metals cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu) and (2) to use the histopathological lesions as tissue biomarkers for biomonitoring of different contaminations. The results clearly showed that the AChE activity in different tissues (digestive gland, muscle and eyes) of Carcinus maenas was relatively sensitive to the concentrations of CPF and tended to have different patterns in response to Cd, Cu and Cu+Cd mixture exposure. The transfer of treated crabs to the clean sea water allowed to recover totally or partially the lost activity depending on selected tissues and contaminant exposure (metals or organophosphorous compounds). Histopathological biomarkers in C. maenas exposed to different contaminants showed the presence of different lesions which altered the digestive gland after 7 days of contamination.


Acetylcholinesterase, Chlorpyrifos-ethyl, Metals, Histopathological biomarkers.

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