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Biochemical targets of xenobiotics: Biomarkers in amphibian ecotoxicology

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image of Applied Herpetology

Biochemical biomarkers respond to a variety of environmental stresses, in particular to xenobiotic contamination. Their use in amphibian ecotoxicology has been scarce, and only in recent years have they been applied in a few cases of environmental monitoring. The best described biomarkers of xenobiotic effect in anurans are: the Cytochrome P450 enzymes which are induced in Phase I detoxification by a broad range of compounds; glutathione depletion and glutathione-S-Transferase induction by oxidative stress; vitellogenin induction by xenoestrogenic compounds causing feminization; acetylcholinesterase and carboxylesterase inactivation or inhibition by exposure to organophosphorus and carbamate compounds; and metallothioneins induced by exposure to toxic metals. As for other aquatic organisms, the integrated use of biochemical biomarkers seems the viable option for amphibian exposure and risk evaluations.


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