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The impact of urban environment on oxidative damage (TBARS) and antioxidant systems in lungs and liver of great tits, Parus major

Journal article
Authors Caroline Isaksson
Joachim Sturve
Bethanie Carney Almroth
Staffan Andersson
Published in Environmental Research
Volume 109
Issue 1
Pages 46-50
ISSN 0013-9351
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Zoology
Pages 46-50
Language en
Keywords Anthropogenic pollution; Oxidative stress; Carotenoids; Passarines; Sweden
Subject categories Animal physiology


A direct negative link between human health and urban pollution levels generated by increased internal levels of oxyradicals is well established. The impact of urban environment on the physiology of wild birds is however, poorly investigated. Here we compare oxidative damage (i.e., lipid peroxidation, measured as TBARS) and different antioxidant enzymes (glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and catalase (CAT)) in lungs of urban and rural great tits, Parus major. In addition, we investigated enzymatic (i.e., CAT) and non-enzymatic (i.e., carotenoids) antioxidant levels in liver tissue. There was no significant difference in lipid peroxidation in lungs between the environments. Among the antioxidant enzymes measured in lungs, only CAT showed a tendency towards increased activity in the urban environment. In contrast, CAT in livers was highly non-significant. However, there was a significantly higher concentration of dietary carotenoids (i.e., lutein (Lut) and zeaxanthin (Zx)) in urban males, along with a sex-specific difference in composition (Lut:Zx ratio) between the environments. Taken together, these results suggest that great tit lungs and livers do not seem to be negatively affected, regarding oxidative stress, by living in an urban environment.

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