Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (2017)

DOI: 10.1007/s00244-017-0404-y


B-cell lymphoma, a common morphologic variant of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, has been associated with persistent pollutants in humans, but this association is not well-characterized in top-level predators sharing marine resources with humans. We characterized and compared blubber contaminants and hormones of a pregnant harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) with B-cell lymphoma, with those in two presumed healthy fishery by-caught porpoises with no lymphoma: a pregnant adult and female juvenile. Common historic use compounds, including polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and pesticides, were evaluated in blubber samples from three porpoises. In addition, blubber cortisol and progesterone levels (ng/g) were determined in all three animals. Total pollutant concentrations were highest in the juvenile porpoise, followed by the lymphoma porpoise and the nonlymphoma adult. Blubber cortisol concentrations were 191% greater in the pregnant with lymphoma porpoise compared with the pregnant no lymphoma porpoise, and 89% greater in the juvenile female compared with the pregnant no lymphoma porpoise. Although both adults were pregnant, progesterone levels were substantially greater (90%) in the healthy compared with the lymphoma adult. Health monitoring of top-level marine predators, such as porpoise, provides a sentinel measure of contaminants that serve as indicators of potential environmental exposure to humans.