Flow cytometric (FCM) analysis was used to assess the potential impact of chronic radionuclide exposure in fish populations inhabiting contaminated sites in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Four species of fish, channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), crucian carp (Carassius carassius), carp (Cyprinus carpio) and tench (Tinca tinca), were collected within a 10 km radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and compared with 'control' populations from two uncontaminated locations far removed from the plant. Assays of whole blood, as well as separate erythrocyte and leukocyte components, revealed aneuploid-like patterns in the DNA histograms of some fish, as well as widened G0/G1 peaks. None of the fish collected from the uncontaminated sites demonstrated these kinds of changes in their DNA histograms. Increases in the coefficient of variation (CV) of the G0/G1 peak, indicating abnormal DNA distributions, were observed in several of the fish from Chernobyl relative to the control populations. Cell cycle perturbation in fish from the contaminated sites was also detected, with a higher percentage of cells in G2/M phase relative to the controls. Leukocytes proved more sensitive than erythrocytes, as they displayed a larger number of abnormal DNA histograms. Variations in the cellular DNA content similar to those reported here have been shown for other vertebrate species exposed to radiation and other genotoxic agents in laboratory and field settings.
- Coefficient of variation
- Flow cytometry