, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 855–863 | Cite as

Assessment of acetylcholinesterase activity in Clarias gariepinus as a biomarker of organophosphate and carbamate exposure

  • Robinson H. Mdegela
  • Resto D. Mosha
  • Morten Sandvik
  • Janneche U. Skaare


The objective of this study was to investigate the response of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities in Clarias gariepinus in response to Organophosphates (Ops) and carbamate exposure. The AChE activities were determined in plasma, and eye and brain homogenates of unexposed and exposed fish using Ellman’s method and 5,5′-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoic acid (DTNB) chromophore. The baseline AChE activities in plasma, eyes and brain tissues in unexposed fish were comparable between males and females (P > 0.05). Concentrations of pesticides that inhibited 50% (IC50) of AChE activities in brain homogenates following in vitro exposures were 0.003, 0.03, 0.15, 190, 0.2, 0.003 and 0.002 μM for carbaryl, chlorfenvinphos, diazinon, dimethoate, fenitrothion, pirimiphosmethyl and profenofos, respectively. The in vivo dose–effect relationships were assessed using chlorfenvinphos and carbaryl at different concentrations that ranged from 0.0003 to 0.06 μM and 0.0005 to 0.05 μM, respectively. Acetylcholinesterase activities were comparable in plasma, and eye and brain homogenates from control and carbaryl-exposed fish. Following exposure of fish to chlorfenvinphos at concentrations above 0.03 μM, a significant inhibition of AChE activities in plasma (84%) and eye homogenate (50%) was observed. The AChE activities in brain homogenate were comparable between chlorfenvinphos-exposed fish and controls. Because carbaryl cause reversible inhibition of AChE activities was found to be more potent than chlorfenvinphos that cause irreversible inhibition following in vitro exposure. Contrary, carbaryl was less potent than chlorfenvinphos after in vivo exposure possibly due to more rapid biotransformation of carbaryl than chlorfenvinphos. Findings from this study have demonstrated that inhibition of AChE activity in C. gariepinus is a useful biomarker in assessing aquatic environment contaminated by anticholinesterases.


AChE inhibition Environmental pollution Freshwater fish Pesticides 



This study was kindly funded by the Norwegian Universities’ Committee for Development Research and Education (NUFU) PRO 08/2002. We express our sincere thanks for the technical assistance we received from A. Kitime, P. Mkuchu, A. Chambo, H. Mbena and A. Mjema.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robinson H. Mdegela
    • 1
  • Resto D. Mosha
    • 2
  • Morten Sandvik
    • 3
  • Janneche U. Skaare
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public HealthSokoine University of AgricultureMorogoroTanzania
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology and ToxicologySokoine University of AgricultureMorogoroTanzania
  3. 3.National Veterinary InstituteOsloNorway
  4. 4.Norwegian School of Veterinary ScienceOsloNorway

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