, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1498–1508 | Cite as

Oxidative stress as a mechanism for toxicity of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D): studies with goldfish gills

  • Tetiana M. Atamaniuk
  • Olga I. Kubrak
  • Kenneth B. Storey
  • Volodymyr I. Lushchak


The effects of exposure to the widely used herbicide, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), at environmentally permitted (1 mg L−1), slightly toxic (10 mg L−1), and highly toxic (100 mg L−1) concentrations were analyzed in gills of goldfish, Carassius auratus, a popular fish model for ecotoxicological research. Fish were exposed to the pesticide in water for 96 h and an additional group of fish were treated by the highest 2,4-D concentration and then allowed to recover for further 96 h. Among markers of oxidative stress, goldfish exposure to 2,4-D did not affect carbonyl protein levels in the gills, but fish exposure to 100 mg L−1 of 2,4-D enhanced lipid peroxide concentrations (by 58 %) and oxidized glutathione levels (by 49 %), the latter also significantly increasing (by 33 %) oxidized/total glutathione ratio. Activities of three enzymes of antioxidant defence also increased under 2,4-D exposure: superoxide dismutase (by 29–35 %), catalase (by 41 %), and glutathione peroxidase (by 19–33 %). Activities of other antioxidant associated enzymes as well as other potential markers of stress (e.g. aminotransferase enzymes, acetylcholinesterase, lactate metabolism) showed little or no response in gills to 2,4-D exposure. However, virtually all affected parameters returned to control values during recovery period. A combination of selected indices of oxidative stress and antioxidant defence, measured in fish gills, may provide to be effective biomarkers to assess environmental hazards of 2,4-D to freshwater ecosystems.


Antioxidant defence Lipid peroxides Superoxide dismutase Catalase Alanine and aspartate aminotransferases Acetylcholinesterase Lactate metabolism 



2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid


Acetylcholine esterase


Alanine transaminase (alanine aminotransferase)


Aspartate transaminase (aspartate aminotransferase)


Carbonyl protein groups


Reduced glutathione


Oxidized glutathione


Glutathione peroxidase


Glutathione reductase


Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase




Lactate dehydrogenase


Lipid peroxides


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase



The authors are grateful to J.M. Storey for critical reading of the manuscript. The research received partial support from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to VIL (#0112U000061) and from a discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (#6793) to KBS.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetiana M. Atamaniuk
    • 1
  • Olga I. Kubrak
    • 1
  • Kenneth B. Storey
    • 2
  • Volodymyr I. Lushchak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and BiotechnologyPrecarpathian National University named after Vassyl StefanykIvano-FrankivskUkraine
  2. 2.Institute of BiochemistryCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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