Adrenal Hormones in Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Influential Factors and Reference Intervals.
ABSTRACT: Inshore common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are exposed to a broad spectrum of natural and anthropogenic stressors. In response to these stressors, the mammalian adrenal gland releases hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone to maintain physiological and biochemical homeostasis. Consequently, adrenal gland dysfunction results in disruption of hormone secretion and an inappropriate stress response. Our objective herein was to develop diagnostic reference intervals (RIs) for adrenal hormones commonly associated with the stress response (i.e., cortisol, aldosterone) that account for the influence of intrinsic (e.g., age, sex) and extrinsic (e.g., time) factors. Ultimately, these reference intervals will be used to gauge an individual's response to chase-capture stress and could indicate adrenal abnormalities. Linear mixed models (LMMs) were used to evaluate demographic and sampling factors contributing to differences in serum cortisol and aldosterone concentrations among bottlenose dolphins sampled in Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA (2000-2012). Serum cortisol concentrations were significantly associated with elapsed time from initial stimulation to sample collection (p<0.05), and RIs were constructed using nonparametric methods based on elapsed sampling time for dolphins sampled in less than 30 minutes following net deployment (95% RI: 0.91-4.21 µg/dL) and following biological sampling aboard a research vessel (95% RI: 2.32-6.68 µg/dL). To examine the applicability of the pre-sampling cortisol RI across multiple estuarine stocks, data from three additional southeast U.S. sites were compared, revealing that all of the dolphins sampled from the other sites (N = 34) had cortisol concentrations within the 95th percentile RI. Significant associations between serum concentrations of aldosterone and variables reported in previous studies (i.e., age, elapsed sampling time) were not observed in the current project (p<0.05). Also, approximately 16% of Sarasota Bay bottlenose dolphin aldosterone concentrations were below the assay's detection limit (11 pg/mL), thus hindering the ability to derive 95th percentile RIs. Serum aldosterone concentrations from animals sampled at the three additional sites were compared to the detection limit, and the proportion of animals with low aldosterone concentrations was not significantly different than an expected prevalence of 16%. Although this study relied upon long-term, free-ranging bottlenose dolphin health data from a single site, the objective RIs can be used for future evaluation of adrenal function among individuals sampled during capture-release health assessments.
Project description:Blubber, a specialized hyperdermic adipose tissue found in marine mammals, has been identified as a useful tissue for the assessment of steroid hormone homeostasis in cetaceans. However, blubber cortisol measurements are not quantitatively predictive of circulating cortisol concentrations in bottlenose dolphins. In other mammals, adipose tissue metabolizes steroid hormones. Thus, it is proposed that the disagreement between blubber and blood cortisol in bottlenose dolphins could be due in part to metabolism of corticosteroids in blubber. The purpose of this study is to characterize the ability of blubber to interconvert cortisol and cortisone using an in vitro design. Results demonstrate that bottlenose dolphin blubber microsomes interconvert cortisol and cortisone, an effect that is abated by denaturing the microsomes, indicating this is an enzymatic process. These findings lead to the conclusion that blubber is likely a site of active steroid metabolism, which should be considered in future studies utilizing blubber as a matrix for endocrine assessment.
Project description:Phthalates are chemical esters used as additives in common consumer goods, such as plastics, household cleaners, and personal care products. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the items to which they are added and can easily leach into the surrounding environment. Anthropogenic drivers, such as coastal plastic pollution and wastewater runoff, increase the exposure potential for coastal marine fauna. Phthalate exposure in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins has been the focus of recent study, with indications of heightened exposure to certain phthalate compounds. The objective of this study was to compare urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations among bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) sampled in Sarasota Bay, FL, to levels reported in human samples collected as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) were the most prevalent metabolites detected in dolphin urine (n = 51; MEP = 29.41%; MEHP = 54.90%). The geometric mean (GM) concentration of MEP was significantly lower for dolphins (GM = 4.51 ng/mL; 95% CI: 2.77-7.34 ng/mL) compared to humans (p<0.05), while dolphin concentrations of MEHP (GM = 4.57 ng/mL; 95% CI: 2.37-8.80 ng/mL) were significantly higher than levels reported in NHANES (p<0.05). Health impacts to bottlenose dolphins resulting from elevated exposure to the MEHP parent compound (diethyl-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, DEHP) are currently unknown. However, given the evidence of endocrine disruption, reproductive impairment, and abnormal development in humans, pursuing investigations of potential health effects in exposed bottlenose dolphins would be warranted.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:This study aimed at comparing precursors of endogenous corticosteroid production in patients with primary adrenal insufficiency and in secondary adrenal insufficiency. DESIGN:Twenty patients with primary adrenal insufficiency and matched controls and 19 patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency participated in this ancillary analysis of two different studies. PATIENTS AND MEASUREMENTS:Patients with primary adrenal insufficiency were on stable hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone therapy. Patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency received two different doses of hydrocortisone in a randomized crossover study. Main outcome measures were concentrations of precursors of cortisol and aldosterone measured by LC-MS/MS RESULTS: Compared to controls, progressively lower concentrations of the glucocorticoid precursors 11-deoxycortisol, 11-deoxycorticosterone and corticosterone concentrations were found in patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency on lower hydrocortisone dose, secondary adrenal insufficiency on higher hydrocortisone dose and primary adrenal insufficiency, respectively. Half of the primary adrenal insufficient patients showed evidence of residual endogenous cortisol or aldosterone synthesis, as determined by quantifiable 11-deoxycortisol, 11-deoxycorticosterone and corticosterone conce ntrations. In secondary adrenal insufficient patients with higher endogenous cortisol production, as indicated by 11-deoxycortisol concentrations above the median, no increased cortisol exposure was observed both by plasma pharmacokinetic parameters and 24-hour free cortisol excretion in urine. CONCLUSIONS:Adrenal corticosteroid production is likely to continue during treatment in a considerable percentage of patients with both primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency. In patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency, this synthesis appears to be sensitive to the dose of hydrocortisone. However, the residual corticosteroid concentrations were quantitatively low and its clinical significance remains therefore to be determined.
Project description:Marine animals represent a dynamic and complex habitat for diverse microbial communities. The microbiota associated with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are believed to influence their health status, but it remains poorly understood. We therefore characterized and compared the bacterial microbiome of bottlenose dolphins from six different anatomical sites that represent four different body systems (respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and integumentary). In this study, a total of 14 free-ranging bottlenose dolphins were sampled during the 2015 Sarasota Bay Dolphin Health Assessment. Bacterial diversity and abundance were assessed by PCR amplification of the hypervariable V3-V4 regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene for each sample, followed by sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq platform. Analysis showed that bottlenose dolphins harbor diverse bacterial communities with a unique microbial community at each body system. Additionally, the bottlenose dolphin bacterial microbiome was clearly distinct to the aquatic microbiome from their surrounding habitat. These results are in close agreement with other cetacean microbiome studies, while our study is the first to explore what was found to be a diverse bottlenose dolphin genital microbiome. The core bacterial communities identified in this study in apparently healthy animals might be informative for future health monitoring of bottlenose dolphins.
Project description:Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry allows for the measurement of steroid hormone suites in the blubber of marine mammals. By combining this technology with minimally invasive techniques such as remote biopsy, endocrine profiles can be assessed, allowing for studies of hormonal profile variation over time. In this study, we explored associations among different steroidogenic pathways and seasonal differences in blubber hormone profiles of free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins along the coast of South Carolina, USA. Male dolphins experience a peak in testosterone, androstenedione, progesterone, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone in the spring, likely related to an upregulation of the androgen steroidogenic pathway during mating season. We also observed increased cortisol concentrations during summer compared to winter. Among females, there was an increase in androstenedione with elevated progesterone concentrations indicative of pregnancy, highlighting another potential endocrine marker for pregnancy in free-ranging dolphins. This work emphasizes the importance of selecting the appropriate season for studies on endocrine status to effectively uncover physiological variation or disruption in free-ranging cetaceans.
Project description:Sentinel species such as bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) can be impacted by large-scale mortality events due to exposure to marine algal toxins. In the Sarasota Bay region (Gulf of Mexico, Florida, USA), the bottlenose dolphin population is frequently exposed to harmful algal blooms (HABs) of Karenia brevis and the neurotoxic brevetoxins (PbTx; BTX) produced by this dinoflagellate. Live dolphins sampled during capture-release health assessments performed in this region tested positive for two HAB toxins; brevetoxin and domoic acid (DA). Over a ten-year study period (2000-2009) we have determined that bottlenose dolphins are exposed to brevetoxin and/or DA on a nearly annual basis (i.e., DA: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009; brevetoxin: 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009) with 36% of all animals testing positive for brevetoxin (n?=?118) and 53% positive for DA (n?=?83) with several individuals (14%) testing positive for both neurotoxins in at least one tissue/fluid. To date there have been no previously published reports of DA in southwestern Florida marine mammals, however the May 2008 health assessment coincided with a Pseudo-nitzschia pseudodelicatissima bloom that was the likely source of DA observed in seawater and live dolphin samples. Concurrently, both DA and brevetoxin were observed in common prey fish. Although no Pseudo-nitzschia bloom was identified the following year, DA was identified in seawater, fish, sediment, snails, and dolphins. DA concentrations in feces were positively correlated with hematologic parameters including an increase in total white blood cell (p?=?0.001) and eosinophil (p<0.001) counts. Our findings demonstrate that dolphins within Sarasota Bay are commonly exposed to two algal toxins, and provide the impetus to further explore the potential long-term impacts on bottlenose dolphin health.
Project description:Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabit bays, sounds and estuaries across the Gulf of Mexico. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, studies were initiated to assess potential effects on these ecologically important apex predators. A previous study reported disease conditions, including lung disease and impaired stress response, for 32 dolphins that were temporarily captured and given health assessments in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, USA. Ten of the sampled dolphins were determined to be pregnant, with expected due dates the following spring or summer. Here, we report findings after 47 months of follow-up monitoring of those sampled dolphins. Only 20% (95% CI: 2.50-55.6%) of the pregnant dolphins produced viable calves, as compared with a previously reported pregnancy success rate of 83% in a reference population. Fifty-seven per cent of pregnant females that did not successfully produce a calf had been previously diagnosed with moderate-severe lung disease. In addition, the estimated annual survival rate of the sampled cohort was low (86.8%, 95% CI: 80.0-92.7%) as compared with survival rates of 95.1% and 96.2% from two other previously studied bottlenose dolphin populations. Our findings confirm low reproductive success and high mortality in dolphins from a heavily oiled estuary when compared with other populations. Follow-up studies are needed to better understand the potential recovery of dolphins in Barataria Bay and, by extension, other Gulf coastal regions impacted by the spill.
Project description:To determine what can the transcriptome tell us about populations of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Keywords: health assessment A total of 151 individuals were sampled from 4 different geographic location in U.S. waters between June of 2003 and June of 2006. Of the 151 dolphins, 59 were from Charleston, 35 from Indian River Lagoon, FL, 32 from Sarasota Bay, FL and 25 from St. Josephs Bay FL. Total RNA extracted from blood leukocytes of wild dolphins was analyzed and different sets of genes were used as classifiers in a machine learning approach, Artificial Neural Networks (ANN).
Project description:In the Florida Panhandle region, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have been highly susceptible to large-scale unusual mortality events (UMEs) that may have been the result of exposure to blooms of the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis and its neurotoxin, brevetoxin (PbTx). Between 1999 and 2006, three bottlenose dolphin UMEs occurred in the Florida Panhandle region. The primary objective of this study was to determine if these mortality events were due to brevetoxicosis. Analysis of over 850 samples from 105 bottlenose dolphins and associated prey items were analyzed for algal toxins and have provided details on tissue distribution, pathways of trophic transfer, and spatial-temporal trends for each mortality event. In 1999/2000, 152 dolphins died following extensive K. brevis blooms and brevetoxin was detected in 52% of animals tested at concentrations up to 500 ng/g. In 2004, 105 bottlenose dolphins died in the absence of an identifiable K. brevis bloom; however, 100% of the tested animals were positive for brevetoxin at concentrations up to 29,126 ng/mL. Dolphin stomach contents frequently consisted of brevetoxin-contaminated menhaden. In addition, another potentially toxigenic algal species, Pseudo-nitzschia, was present and low levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA) were detected in nearly all tested animals (89%). In 2005/2006, 90 bottlenose dolphins died that were initially coincident with high densities of K. brevis. Most (93%) of the tested animals were positive for brevetoxin at concentrations up to 2,724 ng/mL. No DA was detected in these animals despite the presence of an intense DA-producing Pseudo-nitzschia bloom. In contrast to the absence or very low levels of brevetoxins measured in live dolphins, and those stranding in the absence of a K. brevis bloom, these data, taken together with the absence of any other obvious pathology, provide strong evidence that brevetoxin was the causative agent involved in these bottlenose dolphin mortality events.
Project description:Phthalates are chemical additives to common consumer goods including cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care products, and plastic. Because they are not chemically bound to these products and are widely used, the potential for environmental contamination is significant. Phthalates and their metabolites have been associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive impairment, among other adverse health effects, in laboratory animals and human epidemiologic studies. Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are vulnerable to environmental pollutants due to their apex position in the food chain, long life spans, and habitat overlap with developed coastal areas. The objective of this study was to quantify phthalate metabolite concentrations in urine collected from bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, during May 2016 (n = 7) and May 2017 (n = 10). Screening of nine phthalate monoester metabolites in bottlenose dolphin urine was performed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry using methods adapted from those used for analyzing human samples. At least one phthalate metabolite was detected in 71% of the dolphins sampled across both years, with the highest concentrations detected for monoethyl phthalate (MEP; GM = 5.4 ng/ml; 95%CI: 1.3-22.0 ng/ml) and mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP; GM = 1.9 ng/ml; 95%CI: 1.1-3.2 ng/ml). These data demonstrate exposure to two of the most commonly used phthalates in commercial manufacturing, diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). This study establishes methods for urinary detection of phthalate metabolites in marine mammals and provides baseline data to address a significant and growing, yet poorly understood, health threat to marine wildlife.