, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 731–739 | Cite as

Cytochrome P4501A induction in primary cultures of embryonic European starling hepatocytes exposed to TCDD, PeCDF and TCDF

  • Reza Farmahin
  • Doug Crump
  • Stephanie P. Jones
  • Lukas J. Mundy
  • Sean W. Kennedy


Novel methods that predict the sensitivity of avian embryos to the toxic effects of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) using either (1) knowledge of the identity of amino acids at key sites within the ligand binding domain of aryl hydrocarbon receptor 1 (AHR1) or (2) a luciferase reporter gene assay that measures AHR1 activation were recently reported. Results from both methods predict that European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) embryos have similar sensitivity to the biochemical and toxic effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), 2,3,4,7,8-pentachlorodibenzofuran (PeCDF) and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran (TCDF). Chicken embryos are highly sensitive to DLC toxicity, and the prediction that starlings are equally sensitive is surprising given their widespread distribution and large population size. In an attempt to learn more about starling sensitivity to DLCs, we determined concentration-dependent effects of TCDD, PeCDF and TCDF on cytochrome P4501A4 and 1A5 (CYP1A4 and 1A5) mRNA levels in primary cultures of hepatocytes prepared from embryonic European starlings. It has been demonstrated that the sensitivity of avian hepatocytes to CYP1A4/5 induction is well correlated with LD50 values of DLCs for several avian species. The results of the present study indicate that European starling hepatocytes are indeed as sensitive as chicken hepatocytes to CYP1A4/5 induction after exposure to TCDD. However, starling hepatocytes are less sensitive than chicken hepatocytes to CYP1A4/5 induction by PeCDF and TCDF.


Dioxin Risk assessment Bird Aryl hydrocarbon receptor Molecular toxicology European starling 



We thank Pamela Martin, Glenn Barrett and Kimberly O’Hare for their leadership and contributions to all field work. This Project was funded by Environment Canada’s Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division and by a University of Ottawa scholarship to Reza Farmahin.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reza Farmahin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Doug Crump
    • 2
  • Stephanie P. Jones
    • 2
  • Lukas J. Mundy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sean W. Kennedy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Environment Canada, National Wildlife Research CentreOttawaCanada

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