Have Although persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may affect the immune system, few field studies actually examined this effect. There are indications that POP exert effects on the immune system; however, in the Arctic ecosystem data are scarce. The aim of this study was to examine immune functions in two medium trophic-positioned seabirds, the black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) and Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica). Overall POP concentrations were higher in kittiwakes than puffins and males had significantly higher concentrations than females. Mean concentrations of total polychlorinated biphenyls (ΣPCB9) were 4700 ± 200 and 9600 ± 1400 ng/g lipid weight and 2800 ± 180 and 3900 ± 200 ng/g lipid weight in female and male kittiwake and puffin blood, respectively. Levels of immunoglobulin-Y (IgY) in blood of kittiwakes were not markedly affected by concentrations of POP. Similarly, the primary IgY response to tetanus toxoid was not affected by POP concentrations in a subsample of immunized kittiwakes. In puffins, there were significant correlations between the IgY-response and some of the POPs, but with low explanatory values. These results suggest that POPs concentrations were lower than, or just at the threshold level for effects of the proposed IgY biomarker. It is also conceivable that the IgY levels are not a suitable endpoint for evaluating perturbation of the immune system in free-living seabirds.
Arctic; Atlantic puffin; Black-legged kittiwake; IgY; Persistent Organic Pollutants