Assessment of Fish Health Status Under Long-Term Water Pollution : Vygozero Reservoir , North-West Russia

Lidia A. Belicheva, Julia N. Sharova


Environmental pollution and its effects on the health of aquatic ecosystems is a great problem that has been studied intensely in the last years. The Vygozero reservoir is one of the largest water bodies of the Karelian Republic. Its ecosystem has undergone significant changes since the 1930s mainly due to anthropogenic influence from the development of pulp and paper mill industry leading to accumulation of toxic contaminants and eutrophication. At present, the water body has been shown to be also polluted by hydrocarbon products and heavy metals. Among the huge changes in Vygozero ecosystem is the decrease of some fish populations and partial loose of commercial fishing importance. Despite the obvious changes in fish population the chronic biological effects of the Vygozero reservoir pollution on fish organism are poorly studied. This study is concerned with the evaluation of pollution influence on fish health status and establishment relation between fish health and environmental quality. The parameters selected for this aim were the occurrence of gills, liver and kidney alterations, as histopathological changes are widely used as biomarkers in the evaluation of the health of fish exposed to contaminants. Our findings confirm chronic pollution of the Vygozero reservoir. Histological analysis of fish tissues revealed a variety of progressive, regressive, inflammatory, circulatory disturbances and neoplastic changes. Observed histological alterations indicate that organism of fish from Vygozero reservoir responses to the impaired environment quality. Revealed histopathologies are sings of metabolic disorders, immunity suppression, compensatory reactions development and functional abnormalities in vital organs of studied fish. The results of the study correspond to the prior research devoted to ascertain tissue changes in different fish species taken from an area with chronic multiple anthropogenic impact. So it can be concluded that histopathological lesions are result of long-term effect of toxic xenobiotics.


gill; liver and kidney histopathology; pollution

Full Text:



Losovik, P.A. Ecological problems of the Segezha-Nadvoitsy industrial hub. In: The water environment of Karelia: research, management and conservation, Petrozavodsk, 2003, p.26-34. (in Russian)

State report on environment state in Republic of Karelia in 2008. Petrozavodsk, 2009, 288 p. (in Russian)

Status of water objects in Republic of Karelia according to 1998-2006 monitoring results. Petrozavodsk, 2007, 210 p. (in Russian)

Bernet, D., Schmidt, H., Meier, W., Burkhardt-Holm, P., Wahli, T. Histopathology in fish: proposal for a protocol to assess aquatic pollution. J. Fish Dis., 22, 1999, p.25-34.

Cooley, H.M., Evans, R.E., Klaverkamp, J.F. Toxicology of dietary uranium in lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). Aquat. Toxicol., 48, 2000, p.495-515.

Au, D. W. T. The application of histo-cytopathological biomarkers in marine pollution monitoring: a review. Mar. Poll. Bull., 48, 2004, p.814-834.

Bucke, D., Methodologies for demonstrating pathological changes in flounder (Platichthys flesus (L.)). In: Diseases and Parasites of Flounder in the Baltic sea, BMB Publ., 15, 1994, p.131-143.

Hinton, D. E., & Laurén, D. J. Liver structural alterations accompanying chronic toxicity in fishes. Potential biomarkers of exposure. In: Biomarkers of Environmental Contamination,1990, p.17-57.

Schwaiger, J., Wanke, R., Adam, S., Pawert, M., Honnen, W., Triebskorn, R. The use of histopatological indicators to evaluate contaminant-related stress in fish. J. Aqua. Ecosyst. Stress Recovery, 6, 1997, p.75-86.

Triebskorn, R., Telcean, I., Casper, H., Farkas, A., Sandu, C., Stan, G., Colarescu, O., Dori, T., Kohler, H.- R. Monitoring pollution in RiverMures, Romania, part II: metal accumulation and histopathology in fish. Environ. Monit. Assess., 141, 2008, p.177-188.

Pandey, S., Parvez, S., Ansari, R.A., Ali, M., Kaur, M., Hayat, F., Ahmad F., Raisudinn, S. Effects of exposure to multiple trace metals on biochemical, histological and ultrastructural features of gills of a freshwater fish, Channa punctata Bloch. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 174, 2008, p.183-192

Giari, L., Manera, M., Simoni, E., Dezfuli, B.S.Cellular alterations in different organs of European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax (L.) exposed to cadmium. Chemospherre, 67, 2007, p.1171-1181.

Lehtinen, K.J., Notini, M., Landler, L. Tissue damage and parasite frequency in flounders, Platichthys flexus, chronically exposed to bleached kraft pulp mill effluents. Ann. Zool. Fenn., 21, 1984, p.23-28.

Khan, R.A., Barker, D.E., Hooper, R., Lee, E.M., Ryan, K., Nag, K. Histopathology in winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus) living adjacent to a pulp and paper mill. Arc. Environ. Contam. Toxic. 26, 1994, p.95-102.

Brand, D.G., Fink, R., Bengeyfield, W., Birtwell, I.K., McAllister, C.D., Salt wateracclimated pink Salmon Fry (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) develop stress-related visceral lesions after 10-day exposure to sublethal concentrations of the watersoluble fraction of north slope crude oil. Toxicol. Pathol., 29, 2001, p.574-584.

Sepulveda, M.S., Gallagher, E.P., Gross, T.S. Physiological changes in largemouth bass exposed to paper mill effluents under laboratory and field conditions. Ecotoxicology,13, 2004, p.291-301. Mishra, A.K., Mohanty, B. Acute toxicity impacts of hexavalent chromium on behavior and histopathology of gills, kidney and liver of the freshwater fish., Channa punctatus (Bloch). Ecotox.Envrion.Saf., 26, 2008, p.136-141.

Benli, A.C.K., Köksal, G., Özkul, A. Sublethal ammonia exposure of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.): Effects on gill, liver and kidney histology. Chemosphere, 72, 2008, p.1355-1358.

Spencer, P., Pollock, R., Dube, M. Effects of un-ionized ammonia on histological, endocrine, and whole organism endpoints in slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus). Aquat. Toxicol., 90, 2008, p.300-309

Camargo, M.M.P., Martinez, C.B.R. Histopathology of gills, kidney and liver of a Neotropical fish caged in an urban stream. Neotropical Ichthyology, 5, 2007, p.327-336

Khan, R.A., Thulin, J. Influence of pollution on parasites of aquatic animals. Adv. Parasitol., 30, 1991, p.201-238

Yeomans, W.E., Chubb, J.E., Sweeting, R.A. Use of protozoan communities for pollution monitoring. Parassitologia, 39, 1997, p.201-212.

Lehtinen, K.-J. Survival, growth and disease of three-spined stickleback, Gasterosterus aculeatus L., brood exposed to bleached kraft mill effluents (BKME) in mesocosms. Ann. Zool. Fenn., 26, 1989, p.133-144

Overstreet, R.M., Howse, H.D., Some parasites and diseases of estuarine fishes in polluted habitats of Mississippi. Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 298, 1977, p.427-462.

Khan, R.A., Parasitism in marine fish after chronic exposure to petroleum compounds in the laboratory and to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 44, 1990, p.759-763.

Mallat, J. Fish gill structural changes induced by toxicants and other irritants: a statistical review. Canadian Journal of Fish and Aquatic Science, 1985, 42, p.630-648.



  • There are currently no refbacks.