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The mode of action of acute and chronic concentrations of waterborne Cd in the digestive gland of the acclimated infested freshwater crab (Potamonautes warreni)


Cadmium (Cd) uptake, transport and accumulation were investigated in the digestive gland of the freshwater crab, Potamonautes warreni, acclimated in its natural habitat to stresses, such as microbial gill infestations, Cd2+ and NH4 +, and subsequently exposed to increasing concentrations of Cd in the laboratory for up to 21 days. Cd exposure (0.2 mg l−1) for 7–14 days led to Cd permeating cell membranes in a particulate form; it was adsorbed intracellularly to endocytotic circulating amoebocytes, lipid droplets and Golgi vesicles in R-cells. Cd also caused dissociation of the fibrillar rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and an increase in phagocytotic activity in F- and B-cells. After 21 days, Cd accumulated as crystal deposits on the basal membranes of cells in the haemolymph space and along the microvilli of cells lining the tubular lumen. Elevated Cd concentrations were found in the cytosol, amoebocytes, Golgi vesicles and P/Ca granules in R-cells. Chronic exposure to higher concentrations of Cd (0.5 and 1.0 mg l−1) increased crystal deposition, whereas concentrations of Cd, copper and iron decreased in the cell membranes and in amoebocytes and increased in Golgi vesicles. Reduced lipid content, swollen nuclei with vesiculated nucleoli and enhanced activity of RER in R-cells were also noted. Cd was stored in the P/Ca and Ca granules of B-cells. Acute exposure to Cd (2.0 mg l−1 for 48 h) caused metal granule accumulation along cells lining the tubular lumen and cellular dissociation, with acidosis and necrosis in the cytoplasm and Cd deposits in mitochondria. Cd accumulated in the cells of the digestive gland in a time-, concentration- and cell-type-specific fashion.

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P.-M.M.S. gratefully acknowledges the staff at the Zoology Department, Dr. Louwrans R. Teidt and Wilna Pretorius of the EM Laboratory and staff at Photographic Services, University of Potchefstroom, South Africa, for their assistance. Many thanks are extended to Prof. Tony Bruton for the use of the EM facilities at the University of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and to Profs. Zed Mason and Klaus Brasch, California State University, for their constructive comments. P.-M.M.S. expresses her gratitude to Mr. George Millar, Mrs. Gustel Planz and Magarete Seymour for their interest and moral support during the undertaking of this research. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the staff of the EM unit and the Computer Centre, Royal Holloway University of London, for their invaluable assistance.

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Correspondence to P.-Manuela M. Schuwerack.

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Schuwerack, P.M., Lewis, J.W. The mode of action of acute and chronic concentrations of waterborne Cd in the digestive gland of the acclimated infested freshwater crab (Potamonautes warreni). Cell Tissue Res 312, 249–263 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-002-0630-z

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  • Rising Cd pollution
  • Time course
  • Cell-specific responses
  • Digestive gland
  • Transmission-electron microscopy
  • Scanning-electron microscopy
  • Semi-quantitative X-ray microanalysis
  • Freshwater crab, Potamonautes warreni (Crustacea)