Tumors in brown bullheads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Analysis of survey data from 1992 through 2006

Alfred E. Pinkney, John C. Harshbarger, Michael A. Rutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Liver and skin tumor prevalences in brown bullheads Ameiurus nebulosus have been used in the North American Great Lakes to designate highly contaminated areas of concern and monitor their recovery. Here we interpret the results of six surveys conducted in the Chesapeake Bay watershed between 1992 and 2006, with data for 647 fish. The objective has been to develop an adequate database to critically evaluate the use of tumor prevalence as a habitat quality indicator within the watershed. Surveys featured randomized fish collection; recording of sex, length, weight, and age; and histopathology of all livers and all raised skin lesions. The Bayes information criterion was used to analyze all possible combinations of age, gender, length, and weight as covariates for logistic regression. Length and gender were the covariates that best described liver tumor prevalence. There were no covariates in the model for skin tumor prevalence. In some surveys, biomarkers, such as biliary polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-like metabolites, hepatic cytochrome P450 activity, and hepatic DNA adducts, were used with sediment and tissue chemistry data to evaluate classes of chemicals as likely contributors to tumor prevalence. We highlight two surveys of the Anacostia River, Washington, D.C. (average = 55% liver tumors, 23% skin tumors), where sediment PAHs, biliary PAH-like metabolites, and hepatic DNA adducts were high, suggesting that PAHs play a major role. We show that logistic regression is an appropriate procedure for comparing "contaminated" versus "reference" locations, and we evaluate the utility of tumor surveys as an environmental indicator for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Tumors in brown bullheads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Analysis of survey data from 1992 through 2006'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this