Effect of Heavy Metals on Fishes: Toxicity and Bioaccumulation
Journal of Clinical Toxicology

Journal of Clinical Toxicology
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-0495

+44 20 3868 9735

Research Article - (2021)

Effect of Heavy Metals on Fishes: Toxicity and Bioaccumulation

Pramita Garai1, Priyajit Banerjee1, Pradip Mondal2 and Nimai Chandra Saha1*
*Correspondence: Nimai Chandra Saha, Department of Zoology, Fisheries and Ecotoxicology Research Laboratory, University of Burdwan, Burdwan, West Bengal, India, Tel: +91 8617482954, Email:

Author info »


Heavy metal pollution is a serious problem for the environment due to their toxicity, persistency, bioaccumulation, and bio magnifications property. Heavy metal contamination in the environment can occur from different natural and anthropogenic sources. The natural sources of heavy metals are mainly volcanic eruption and weathering of metal-bearing rocks, while the anthropogenic sources of heavy metals include agricultural and industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuel and gasoline, waste incinerators, mining, etc. The mobilization of these heavy metals to the aquatic ecosystem alters the physicochemical property of water which is hazardous for aquatic organisms. Heavy metals mainly enter the fish body through gills, body surface and digestive tract during ingestion of metal accumulated food materials. Cadmium, chromium, nickel, arsenic, copper, mercury, lead and zinc are the most common heavy metal pollutants that cause severe toxicity in fishes. Development of oxidative stress is the fundamental molecular mechanism of metal toxicity. The stress weakens the immune system, causes tissue and organ damage, growth defect and reduces reproductive ability. The rich source of high-quality protein filled with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids encourage the human being to uptake fish as a major food source. So, accumulated heavy metals in the fish tissues directly transfer to the human body and cause toxic effects to expedite various diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss the sources of heavy metals and their toxic effect on fish health to enforce the law and legislations regarding their protection in the aquatic environment and also to save human life.


Heavy metal; Aquatic ecosystem; Bioaccumulation; Toxicity; Oxidative stress


Environmental pollution is one of the major challenges for human society nowadays [1]. Due to the fast-growing industries, increased energy demand and careless destruction of natural resources from the last few decades environmental pollution is increasing day by day [2]. Different organic and inorganic toxic materials are constantly releasing from various natural and anthropogenic sources in the soil and aquatic ecosystem. Among them, heavy metals are playing a major role in environmental pollution, not only for their toxic nature but also possessing the potentiality of bioaccumulation in the food chain [3]. Heavy metals are mostly releasing from domestic and agricultural waste products, industrial waste materials, combustion of fossil fuels, mining, waste water treatment plants to the natural ecosystem [4].

Since heavy metals are persistent in the natural ecosystem, once enter into the living organism, it can accumulate inside. The heavy metals that contaminate the soil are easily taken up by the plants and lead to different adversity e.g. chlorosis, growth inhibition, defect in water balance and photosynthesis, senescence, and finally death [5]. The soil contamination of heavy metals also affects the microbiological balance and reduced soil fertility [6]. The heavy metals can easily dissolved in the aquatic environment and subsequently enter into the body of aquatic organisms [7]. In the course of the food chain, those metals then enter into the body of higher animals. Bioaccumulation of toxic heavy metals in the different tissues may harm animal health and causes damage to their normal physiological processes [8]. Heavy metal toxicity drastically affects the rate of survivability and reproductive capacity of the organisms. Some of these have been reported to be highly carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic depending on the species, dose and exposure time [9].

Aquatic biota directly exposed to the heavy metals that dissolved in water or present as sediment in the water body [10]. Being the top consumers of the aquatic ecosystem fishes are affected most [11]. Heavy metal toxicity sometimes damages the nervous system of fish that affects the interaction of fish with its environment [12]. Humans are omnivorous and exposed to toxic heavy metals by different food items such as fish, vegetables and cereals. Therefore, the heavy metal contamination in the body of aquatic organisms or plants can biomagnified and persist in the food chain, results in transfer to the human body [13]. Heavy metal toxicity has become an important global threat for fish consumers [14].

Materials and Methods

The present review aims to discuss the bioaccumulation and toxic effect of different heavy metals like Chromium, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Nickel, Arsenic, Mercury and Zinc on fish health, so that necessary steps can be taken to minimize the impact of these metal elements in our ecosystem.

Chromium (Cr)

Chromium is one of the most common trace elements found in the earth's crust and seawater [15]. This element is not present in the environment as pure metal form, but present in divalent (Cr2+), trivalent (Cr3+) or hexavalent (Cr6+) oxidation states. Among these different forms, Cr3+ and Cr6+ are the most stable forms [16,17]. Cr3+ oxidation state is less toxic due to low membrane permeability, non-corrosiveness nature and minimum power of bio magnifications in the food chain. Cr6+ state is more toxic because of its strong oxidative potentiality and ability to cross the cell membrane [18]. In an aquatic ecosystem, chromium toxicity occurs from different anthropogenic sources such as leather tanneries, metal processing, petroleum refining, textile manufacturing, alloy preparation, wood preserving etc. [19,20].

The toxicity of chromium to aquatic organisms is dependent upon various biotic factors like age, developmental phase and type of species; and abiotic factors like pH, temperature and alkalinity of water. Initial exposure of fish to chromium showed different behavioural changes i.e. uneven swimming, mucous discharge, change in body colour, loss of appetite etc., [21]. Chronic exposure of chromium at a concentration of 2-200 μmol/L on Cyprinus carpio showed cytotoxicity, decreased mitogen-induced lymphocyte activation and phagocyte functions [22]. Blood coagulation time was decreased in the Tilapia sparrmanii exposed to chromium, which reflects by internal bleeding with an increase of pH value [23]. Accumulation of chromium in the tissue of Indian major carp Labeo rohita decrease total protein and lipid content in the muscle, liver and gill [24]. The depletion of liver glycogen content was observed in a freshwater teleost Colisa fasciatus, on chromium exposure [25]. In rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri, Cr6+ toxicity showed osmoregulatory and respiratory dysfunction at pH 7.8 and 6.5 [26]. Chronic exposure of chromium to Chinook salmon caused DNA damage, microscopic lesions, physiological abnormalities, and reduction in growth and survival rate [27]. In rainbow trout Salmo gairdneri, embryo hatching and the growth of fish were affected after chromium exposure at a concentration of 2 mg/L [28].

Bioaccumulation of chromium varies differentially in various tissues of fish (Table 1). The highest accumulation of chromium is found in gills, liver and kidney and very low concentration is found in the muscle tissue [29].

Heavy metal Bioaccumulation in tissue or organ Fish species Reference
Chromium Kidney>heart>muscle>gills
Hydrocynusbebe occidentalis
Coregonus lavaretus
Cyprinus carpio
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Cadmium Gills>liver>muscle
Pleuronectes platessa
Pleuronectes platessa
Raja clavata
Hydrocynusbebe occidentalis
Coregonus lavaretus
Cyprinus carpio
Westernhagenet al., 1978
Pentreath., 1977
Pentreath., 1977
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Copper Kidney>Liver >gills>muscle
Coregonus lavaretus
Cyprinus carpio
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Lead Gills>muscle>heart>kidney
Hydrocynusbebe occidentalis
Coregonus lavaretus
Cyprinus carpio
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Nickel Kidney>gills>muscle>heart
Hydrocynusbebe occidentalis
Coregonus lavaretus
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Murtala et al., 2012
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Arsenic Liver>gills>blood>muscle>skin>brain
Oreochromis niloticus
Kumar et al., 2012
Oliveira et al., 2017
Mercury Kidney>liver>muscle>gills
Coregonus lavaretus
Cyprinus carpio
Oreochromis niloticus
Gashkinaet al., 2020
Rajeshkumaret al., 2018
Bradley et al., 2017
Zinc Gills>kidney>liver>gut
Liver > kidney> intestine > gill > muscle
Pleuronectes platessa
Channa punctatus
Pentreath 1973
Muruganet al., 2008

Table 1: Heavy metal bioaccumulation in different tissues or organ of fish-ranked in decreasing order.

Cadmium (Cd)

Cadmium is a trace element present in the earth's crust on an average concentration is about 0.1-0.5 ppm and is commonly found in association with zinc, copper and lead ores. In ocean water, the average concentration is between 5-110 mg/L and in surface water and ground water is usually <1 μg/L [30]. Element form of cadmium is not available in nature. Instead, compound forms e.g. cadmium chloride, cadmium oxide, cadmium sulphide, cadmium carbonate, cadmium nitrate and cadmium cyanide are commonly found [31]. Cadmium is released in the aquatic ecosystem from different natural and anthropogenic sources. Natural sources of cadmium are from the earth's crust and mantle by the volcanic eruption and weathering of rocks. Whereas anthropogenic sources include combustion of fossil fuels, fertilizers, agricultural waste and industrial use (plastic stabilizers, pigment, batteries, electroporating industries) which contaminate the water body [32,33]. The flora and fauna of water body uptake water soluble or sediment form of cadmium compounds, which indirectly enter into the fish body in course of the food chain [34]. Whereas fishes uptake water dissolved free ionic form of cadmium directly through gill, gastrointestinal tract and skin [35].

Cadmium is considered as a nonessential element and causes severe toxicity to fishes. It inhibits the electron transfer chain in mitochondria and stimulates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production [36]. A low level of cadmium exposure induced DNA damage in Cyprinus carpio [37]. Trans-epithelial calcium influx in rainbow trout gill was found to be inhibited by Cd+2 [38]. Micro- nucleated and bi-nucleated cells formation in blood, gills and liver were observed in subchronic cadmium chloride exposure in fish [39,40]. Reported histopathological alteration like fatty vacuolation in the liver; necrosis in hepatocytes; congestion of sub mucosal blood vessels in the intestine and glomerular shrinkage and necrosis in kidney tissue of Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Fish exposed to cadmium showed a differential haematological response. After 8 weeks of exposure to 150 μg/L of cadmium in American eel fish (Anguilla rostrata), lead to anaemia due to reduction in haemoglobin and erythrocyte counts. Significant increase in leukocyte and large lymphocytes count was also observed after cadmium exposure [41]. The level of glycogen reserve in muscle and liver was decreased significantly and blood glucose level increased in Cyprinus carpio, exposed to sublethal concentration of cadmium [42]. Cadmium is an endocrine disrupter and an inhibitor of vitellogenesis, observed in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss [43]. Exposure to cadmium chloride affected the gonad function and sexual maturity in common carp Cyprinus carpio [44]. Cadmium exposure to the larvae of ide Leuciscus idus showed body malformations and reduced embryonic survival rate due to death in newly hatched larvae [45].

Cadmium accumulation is a serious environmental concern because of its slow rate of excretion. The highest level of cadmium bioaccumulation is found in the liver, kidney and gill and lowest level in the skin. Gill is the most efficient organ for cadmium detoxification [46]. Cadmium is considered is one of the most toxic heavy metals for aquatic organisms because of its high rate of bioaccumulation.

Copper (Cu)

Copper pollution in the freshwater ecosystem occurs due to extensive use of fungicides, algaecides and insecticides in the agricultural field and then discharge of the waste materials to the water body. Other than that, copper toxicity also occurs from the electroplating industry, metal refining industry, plastic industry, mining, sewage sludge, atmospheric deposition etc. [47,48].

Copper is an essential trace element and micronutrient, important for the growth and metabolism of living organisms. In fish and other vertebrates, copper is the key constituent of many metabolic enzymes and glycoprotein. It is also essential for haemoglobin synthesis and nervous system function [49,50]. But, at higher concentration, copper causes toxic effect on living organisms [51]. Copper causes toxicity to freshwater fish at a concentration ranging from 10-20 ppb [52]. Toxicity of copper to aquatic life is dependent on several factors, i.e. water hardness, pH, anions and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC). Fish uptake copper mainly through the dietary route or ambient exposure [53]. Exposure to waterborne copper on freshwater fish induced oxidative stress response [54]. Chronic toxicity of copper in fish causes poor growth, shortening of life span, decreased immune response, and fertility problems [55]. Copper toxicity in the gill of teleost fish (Oreochromis niloticus), showed induction in apoptosis [56]. In Cyprinus carpio, copper sulfate exposure showed biochemical and morphological changes in the liver tissue [57]. Micronuclei and binuclei formation was induced in blood erythrocytes, gill epithelial cells and liver cells of fish, after subchronic exposure to copper sulphate. Copper impaired complex fish behaviours such as, social interaction, avoidance of predators and reproductive behaviour that are important for survival. Copper toxicity to Mytilus edulis lead to a decrease in heart rate and cardiac function [58]. Copper exposed Oreochromis mossambicus showed an increase in RBC count, haemoglobin content and hematocrit value [59]. This element is neurotoxic to fish and interferes with the function of olfactory neurons [60]. Copper exposed zebrafish larva became greater sensitive than embryonic and adult stage and showed lateral line dysfunction [61]. The larvae of goldfish Carassius auratus showed a high rate of body deformities and mortality on copper exposure [62]. Copper accumulates at the highest concentration in the liver and less concentration in the gill and body flesh of fish [63]. Bioaccumulation of this trace element influenced the oxidative metabolism, lipid peroxidation and protein content in carp tissue [64].

Lead (Pb)

Lead is considered as one of the most hazardous heavy metals, which is naturally present in the environment, in combination with other elements i.e. PbS, PbSO4 and PbCO3.The concentration of lead in the environment is very much increased by different anthropogenic sources such as metal mining, combustion of coal, oil and gasoline, battery manufacturing, lead-arsenate pesticides, lead-based paint, pigments, food cans etc., [65]. Lead discharge from various industries, agricultural fields, street runoff, lead dust and municipal wastewater that directly come to the aquatic environment and cause toxicity for the aquatic life [66]. The solubility of lead in water is depending upon pH, salinity, hardness etc. Highest solubility of lead is observed in soft and acidic water.

The lethal concentration of lead for fish is 10-100 mg/L [67]. Sublethal concentration of lead exposure causes behavioural change, impotency and growth retardation of fish [68]. Katti reported a change in lipid and cholesterol content in the liver, brain and gonad of Clariasbatrachus, in prolonged exposure to a low concentration of lead nitrate [69]. Histological distortion of gill and liver tissue was observed in African catfish Clariasgariepinus, exposed to lead. Freshwater teleost (Mastacembelus pancalus) showed histological alterations in the ovarian tissue in lead exposure [70]. Necrosis of parenchyma cells, fibrosis of hepatic cords and connective tissue, reduction in growth and body weight, collapsing of blood vessels were also observed in lead-exposed fish [71]. Lead exposure in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) showed decreased haemoglobin content, red blood cell count and hematocrit value [72]. Oxidative stress is induced by lead toxicity, which caused synaptic damage and neurotransmitter malfunction in fish [73]. Alteration of the immunological parameters was observed in Tench (Tinca tinca) lethal and sublethal exposure to lead [74].

Lead bioaccumulation in fish mainly occurs in the liver, spleen, kidney and gills [75]. Lead bioaccumulation also affected free locomotion and induced morphological deformities in Chinese sturgeon, Acipenser sinensis [76].

Nickel (Ni)

Nickel is a very abundant trace element found in the environment, present in combination with oxygen or sulphur. Nickel is released into the environment from both natural and anthropogenic sources. The element is discharged from industries during nickel mining and transformation of new nickel into alloys or nickel compounds. Nickel is also released from coal-burning power plants, oil-burning power plants and trash incinerators [77].

Nickel is an essential element for many organisms at low concentration, but at high concentration, it causes toxicity [78]. Nickel toxicity in fishes is dependent upon different physiochemical properties of water like pH, ionic strength, temperature, hardness, Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) etc. [79]. Exposure to nickel chloride in Nile tilapia showed abnormal swimming behaviour, rapid opercular movement, respiratory disorder and lesions in the skin. Nile tilapia exposed to nickel also showed a change in blood parameters like, increase of RBC count and a decrease of haemoglobin and WBC counts [80]. Histopathological changes in different tissues like gill, kidney, liver and intestine were observed in nickel exposed freshwater fish Hypophthalmichthys molitrix. The fusion of gill lamellae, necrosis of hepatocytes, blood vessels degeneration, hypertrophy, vacuolation, pyknotic nuclei and lesion were observed in the liver tissue. Hyperplasia and degeneration of tubular cells in kidney tissue were also observed on nickel exposure [81]. In chronic and acute exposure of nickel to freshwater fish Oreochromic niloticus, reduced ATPase activity in the brain [82]. Nickel exposure in freshwater fish Prochilodus lineatus, affected the antioxidant defence system in the liver and induced DNA damage in both blood cells and gills [83]. Short term exposure of a high concentration of nickel resulted in stress reaction of common carp Cyprinus carpio. Alteration of haematological parameters and behavioural changes were also found in Cyprinus carpio, to sublethal concentration of nickel exposure [84]. Nickel toxicity showed some adverse effect on protein metabolism of freshwater fish, Cyprinus carpio. The observed alterations were decrease of structural, soluble and total proteins, increase of free amino acids and protease activity and ammonia in gill and kidney after exposure to a lethal concentration of nickel [85]. Nickel poisoning in fish showed loss of body equilibrium and behavioural changes like surfacing, rapid mouth and operculum movement before death [86].

Nickel accumulates in the blood, kidney, muscle and liver of fish but highest accumulation is observed in the kidney [87]. Bioaccumulation expressed a general decrease of glycogen level in both liver and muscle of Tilapia nilotica. High level of nickel bioaccumulation in Tilapia nilotica, elevated blood cell count, packed cell volume and haemoglobin content and caused lymphopenia and leukopenia.

Arsenic (As)

Arsenic is a ubiquitous element, release in the aquatic environment from various anthropogenic sources including manufacturing companies, smelting operations, power plants etc. Another major source of arsenic from the agricultural field is the use of arsenic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides [88].

Fish are continuously exposed to arsenic-contaminated water through their gill and skin and also by arsenic-contaminated food. Arsenic is present in various forms, i.e. element, trivalent and pentavalent oxidative form. Inorganic arsenic in trivalent oxidation state (arsenites) is very rapidly absorbed into the fish tissue and is more toxic than the pentavalent state (arsenates). The toxic effect of arsenic is dependent upon different abiotic factors of a water body such as pH, temperature, salinity, organic matters, phosphate content, suspended solids as well as other toxic substances [89]. Continuous exposure of freshwater fish to the low concentration of arsenic results in bioaccumulation mostly in the liver and kidney tissue [90]. Arsenic exposure showed histopathological alteration in gills and liver tissue of freshwater fish, tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). The alterations in gills were epithelial hyperplasis, lamellar fusion, epithelial lifting and oedema, desquamation and necrosis. The liver histology showed macrophage infiltration, vascularisation, hepatocytes shrinkage, dilation of sinusoids, vascular degeneration, nuclear hypertrophy and focal necrosis [91]. A range of histological alterations was found in the heart of freshwater teleost, Channa punctata including necrosis in the heart tissue [92]. Acute exposure of common Indian catfish Clariasbatrachus to sodium arsenite elicited disturbed haemopoiesis, disruption of the erythrocyte membrane, impaired iron uptake by erythrocytes and haemolysis [93]. Arsenic exposure in the catfish Clariasbatrachus showed a time-dependent change in total leucocyte count and reduction of organo-somatic indices in kidney and spleen. Arsenic also induced alteration in T-cell and B-cell functioning and interfere bacterial phagocytosis function of catfish [94]. Developmental arrest of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryo was observed in the sublethal concentration of arsenic toxicity [95]. The induction of stress response proteins were found in rainbow trout Salmo gairdnerii, on arsenic exposure [96]. Arsenic toxicity in zebrafish embryos significantly inhibits genes involved in innate immune responses, which function against viral and bacterial infection [97]. Wanget treated two fish cell lines, JF (fin cells of Therapon jarbua) and TO-2 cells (ovary cells of Tilapia), with sodium arsenite [98]. They observed apoptosis in JF cells probably due to induction of oxidative stress and distortion of the cell cycle in TO-2 cells. In long term exposure of freshwater fish Colisa fasciatus, to arsenic oxide caused impaired ovarian function and reduction in the development of 2nd and 3rd stage oocyte [99]. Bioaccumulation of arsenic affects various physiological systems of fish such as growth, reproduction, gene expression, ion regulation, immune system and histopathology.

Mercury (Hg)

Mercury is considered as one of the most toxic heavy metal found in the environment. Mercury contamination in the environment increased rapidly from the 20th century due to huge industrialization [100]. Mercury ranked third in the list of the hazardous substance of the environment after lead and arsenic by United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) [101]. The natural sources of this element are forest fire and volcanic eruption and anthropogenic sources include fungicides, electronic equipment, batteries, paint etc. Burning of fossil fuels and mining also contribute a major role in mercury pollution of our environment [102].

Apart from elementary form, mercury is present in an ionic form which forms a compound with sulphide, chloride or organic acid and organic form, especially methyl mercury [103]. Literature suggests methyl mercury is the most chemically toxic form of mercury and 70-100% of mercury present in the fish body is of methylated form. Methylation of inorganic mercury occurs by microorganisms such as anaerobic sulphate-reducing bacteria, iron reducers, and methanogens [104,105]. Increase in water temperatures attributed to climate change which stimulates the methylation of mercury. Mercury can enter into the fish body by food through the alimentary canal, skin and gills. The acute lethal concentration of inorganic mercury is 0.3-1.0 mg/L for salmonids and 0.2-4 mg/L for cyprinids depending upon the physical and chemical property of water. The acute lethal concentrations of commonly found organic mercury compounds are 0.025-0.125 mg/L for salmonids and 0.20- 0.70 mg/L for cyprinids. The maximum admissible concentration of the inorganic form of mercury for salmonids is 0.001 mg/L and for cyprinids is 0.002 mg/L [106]. Mercury is very toxic for fish and at sublethal concentration and causes structural, physiological and biochemical alteration on the fish nervous system. Methyl mercury is considered as the most neurotoxic compound because it can cross the blood-brain barrier due to its lipophilic nature and can accumulate in the nervous system of fish. Mercury can also interfere with the physical property and structural integrity of cell membrane by affecting the configuration of purines, pyrimidines and nucleic acids [107]. Chronic exposure of mercurial compound to the kidney of Clarias batrachus expressed damage and necrosis of kidney tubules [108]. Mercury oxide toxicity on African catfish Clarias gariepinus showed a significant increase of serum cortical, cholesterol, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphorous, urea and creatinine levels and a significant decrease in haemoglobin and haematocrit value [109]. The freshwater fish Channa punctatus exposed to 0.3 mg/L of HgCl2 for 7 days showed oxidative damage and up regulation of pro- inflammatory cytokines [110]. Inorganic mercury exposure in zebra fish showed histological alteration and oxidative stress in gonads. Mercury toxicity also disrupted the transcription of Hypothalamic- Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) axis genes and altered the sex hormone levels of adult zebra fish [111]. The male reproductive system of tropical fish Gymnotus caropo showed sensitivity to Hg toxicity. HgCl2 induced seminiferous tubule disorganization, congestion of blood vessels, interstitial tissue proliferation, and reduction in germ cells and sperm’s number of Gymnotus caropo [112].

Mercury has a high affinity to proteins, therefore more than 90% of total mercury accumulates in fish muscle [113]. Rate of methyl mercury excretion from fish body is extremely slow therefore in addition to muscle, high concentration of mercury also found in blood [114]. Additionally, liver also function as the site of storage, detoxification or redistribution of mercury [115].

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc contamination in the environment is increasing because of different anthropogenic sources such as industrial activities, mining, combustion of coal and waste materials, steel processing etc., [116].

Zinc is a ubiquitous trace element and one of the essential micronutrients for living organisms. Zinc is involved in various metabolic pathways such as nucleic acids and protein synthesis, immunity, energy metabolism, cell division and body growth. It acts as a cofactor for many enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and other processes [117,118]. Deficiency of zinc causes several physiological disorders such as poor pregnancy rate, cardiovascular diseases and cancer; but it becomes toxic in excess amount [119]. Zinc toxicity is also species-specific and varies with different developmental stages of fish. The toxic effect of zinc on aquatic animals depends upon several environmental factors, especially temperature, water hardness, and dissolved oxygen concentration. At an acute toxic concentration of zinc, it kills fish by destroying gill tissue and at the chronic toxic level, it induces stress which results in the death of fish [120].

Fish take zinc through the gastrointestinal tract and gills. The major mechanism of zinc toxicity occurs as the divalent cationic form which disrupts the absorption of calcium ion in the tissue, results in hypocalcaemia and eventually fish death [121]. Zinc sulphate exposed Tilapia nilotica showed slow swimming activity and loss of body equilibrium. The hepatocytes of the liver became vacuolated with frequent necrosis [122]. Zebrafish embryos exposed to different concentrations of ZnCl2 showed a delay in hatching capacity, growth defect and skeletal malformations due to defective calcification [123]. Zinc exposed fish Phoxinus phoxinus showed alteration in movement pattern and behavioural change. These fish become less active, easily frightened and formed denser shoals which mostly stayed close to the bottom [124]. Zinc exposed killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) led to oxidative stress response by increasing hepatic lipid peroxidation level, which is an oxidative stress biomarker and decrease of liver catalase (CAT) activity [125].

Zinc accumulates in fish through gills and digestive track, however the role of water as a source of zinc is not fully elucidated [126]. Murugan examined the accumulation of zinc in different tissue of Channa punctatus and concluded that zinc deposit at the order of liver>kidney> intestine>gill>muscle [127].


Some heavy metals have an essential role in the normal biological processes, and the insufficiency or excess amount can cause a disturbance in the metabolic pathways and serious illness [128]. Essential heavy metals are which have known biological functions [129]. Other group of heavy metals have no biological role and at higher concentrations cause a toxic effect to the tissues [130].

Beyond tolerance level, metal ions induce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) production, which causes an oxidative stress response in fishes [131]. Redox-active metals e.g. copper and chromium generate reactive oxygen species through redox cycling. Whereas redox inactive metals e.g. mercury, nickel, lead, arsenic and cadmium bind to the Sulfhydryl groups (SH) of proteins involved in antioxidant defences, thereby impair the defence mechanism [132]. Elevated ROS production in fish causes DNA lesions, oxidation of lipids and proteins and alterations of cellular redox status [133,134].

Antioxidant defences mechanism in fish includes the antioxidant enzyme system and low molecular weight scavengers (Figure 1). Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD), Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX), Catalase (CAT), and Glutathione-S-Transferase (GST) enzymes protect cells from oxidative damage by detoxification of ROS [135]. Whereas low molecular weight protein i.e. Metallothioneins (MTs) reached the cysteine residues that sequester the metals. Different isoforms of MTs bound to various metals with different affinities in fishes [136].


Figure 1: Heavy metals toxicity in fishes. Heavy metals induce oxidative stress by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). The anti-oxidation defense mechanism (include different enzymes CAT, SOD, GST, GPx and metal scavenging protein MT) involved in detoxification. Severe metal toxicity generates different physiological and immunological responses. In the course of metal toxicity bioaccumulation of metals occurs in different tissue of fishes.

In addition, to detoxify the metals, metallothioneins are the major cause of bioaccumulation of heavy metals in different tissue of fishes [137]. The accumulated heavy metals not only affect the fish population in the aquatic ecosystem but also transfer through the food chain/web to the next tropic level. Trophic transfer of these elements from aquatic to the terrestrial ecosystem has serious implications for human health by promoting different diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disease, etc. [138,139].


Therefore, this comprehensive study about the heavy metal toxicity on fish health suggests that essential steps should be taken to minimize the toxic impact of heavy metals on human health and the environment. Here, some recommendation is made-

• The level of heavy metal on soil, water and sediment should be monitored regularly. Such data should be used for the assessment of health risk in the human population.

• Agricultural and industrial waste should be decontaminated effectively before discharge into the water body.

• Proper awareness should be provided to the public about the harmful effect of heavy metal toxicity in our environment.

• More scientific research should be encouraged and promoted about the toxicity of heavy metals, their trophic level transfer and their effect on the environment.

Author Contribution

Pramita Garai, Priyajit Banerjee are contributed equally.


  1. Ali H, Khan E, Ilahi I. Environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology of hazardous heavy metals: Environmental persistence, toxicity, and bioaccumulation. J Chem. 2019;2019:1-14.
  2. Gautam PK, Gautam RK, Banerjee S, Chattopadhyaya MC, Pandey JD. Heavy metals in the environment: Fate, transport, toxicity and remediation technologies. In: Heavy Metals: Sources, Toxicity and Remediation Techniques. 2016;pp.101-130.
  3. Briffa J, Sinagra E, Blundell R. Heavy metal pollution in the environment and their toxicological effects on humans. Heliyon. 2020;6(9): e04691.
  4. Gheorghe S, Stoica C, Vasile GG, Nita-Lazar M, Stanescu E, Lucaciu IE. Metals Toxic Effects in Aquatic Ecosystems: Modulators of Water Quality. In: Water Quality. 2017;pp.59-89.
  5. Shtangeeva I V. Behaviour of Chemical Elements in Plants and Soils. Chem Ecol. 1995;11(2):85-95.
  6. Barbieri M. The Importance of Enrichment Factor (EF) and Geoaccumulation Index (Igeo) to Evaluate the Soil Contamination. J Geol Geophys. 2016;5(1):237.
  7. A Authman MMN, Zaki MS, Khallaf EA, Abbas HH. Use of Fish as Bio-indicator of the Effects of Heavy Metals Pollution. J Aquac Res Development. 2015;6: 328
  8.  Malik DS, Maurya PK. Heavy metal concentration in water, sediment, and tissues of fish species (Heteropneustis fossilis and Puntius ticto) from Kali River, India. Toxicol Environ Chem. 2014;96(8):1195-1206.
  9. Malik DS, Maurya PK. Heavy metal concentration in water, sediment, and tissues of fish species (Heteropneustis fossilis and Puntius ticto) from Kali River, India. Toxicol Environ Chem. 2014;96(8):1195-1206.
  10. Ngo HTT, Gerstmann S, Frank H. Subchronic effects of environment-like cadmium levels on the bivalve anodonta anatina (Linnaeus 1758): III. effects on carbonic anhydrase activity in relation to calcium metabolism. Toxicol Environ Chem. 2011;93(9):1815–25.
  11. Youssef DH, Tayel FT. Metal accumulation by three Tilapia spp. From some Egyptian inland waters. Chem Ecol. 2004;20(1):61–71.
  12. Luo J, Ye Y, Gao Z, Wang W. Essential and nonessential elements in the red-crowned crane Grus japonensis of Zhalong Wetland, northeastern China. Toxicol Environ Chem. 2014;96(7):1096–1105.
  13. Baatrup E. Structural and functional effects of heavy metals on the nervous system, including sense organs, of fish. Comp Biochem Physiol Part C Comp Pharmacol. 1991;100(1–2):253–7.
  14. Has-Schön E, Bogut I, Strelec I. Heavy metal profile in five fish species included in human diet, domiciled in the end flow of river Neretva (Croatia). Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2006;50(4):545–51.
  15. Rahman MS, Molla AH, Saha N, Rahman A. Study on heavy metals levels and its risk assessment in some edible fishes from Bangshi River, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Food Chem. 2012;134(4):1847–54.
  16. Bakshi A, Panigrahi AK. A comprehensive review on chromium induced alterations in fresh water fishes. Toxicol Rep. 2018;5:440-447.
  17. Vincent S, Ambrose T, Kumar LC, Selvanayagam M. Biochemical response of the Indian major carp, Catla catla (HAM.) to chromium toxicity. Indian J. Environ. Health. 1995;37:192-196.
  18. Velma V, Vutukuru SS, Tchounwou PB. Ecotoxicology of hexavalent chromium in freshwater fish: A critical review. Rev Environ Health. 2009;24(2):129-45.
  19. Ram BK, Han Y, Yang G, Ling Q, Dong F. Effect of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] on phytoremediation potential and biochemical response of hybrid napier grass with and without EDTA application. Plants(Basel). 2019;8(11):515.
  20. Panov VP, Gyul’khandan’yan EM, Pakshver AS. Regeneration of exhausted chrome tanning solutions from leather production as a method preventing environmental pollution with chromium. Russ J Appl Chem. 2003;76(9):1476–8.
  21. J.C. N, Sekar RR, Chandran R. J.C., N., R. Sekar and R. Chandran. Acute Effect of Chromium Toxicity on the Behavioral Response of Zebra Fish Danio Rerio. The International Journal of Plant, Animal and Environmental Sciences 2016;2016.
  22. Huang KL, Holsen TM, Chou TC, Yang MC. The use of air fuel cell cathodes to remove contaminants from spent chromium plating solutions. Environ Technol (United Kingdom). 2004;25(1):39–49.
  23. Steinhagen D, Helmus T, Maurer S, Michael RD, Leibold W, Scharsack JP, et al. Effect of hexavalent carcinogenic chromium on carp Cyprinus carpio immune cells. Dis Aquat Organ. 2004;62(1–2):155-161.
  24. Van Pittius MG,Van Vuren JHJ, Du Preez HH. Effects of chromium during pH change on blood coagulation in Tilapia sparrmanii (Cichlidae). Comp Biochem Physiol Part C, Comp. 1992;101(2):371–4.
  25. Vutukuru SS. Chromium induced alterations in some biochemical profiles of the Indian major carp, Labeo rohita (Hamilton). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 2003;70(1):118–123.
  26. Nath K, Kumar N. Toxicity of manganese and its impact on some aspects of carbohydrate metabolism of a freshwater teleost, Colisa fasciatus. Sci Total Environ. 1987;67(2–3):257–262.
  27. Van Der Putte I, Laurier MBHM, Van Eijk GJM. Respiration and osmoregulation in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) exposed to hexavalent chromium at different pH values. Aquat Toxicol. 2009;2(2): 99-112.
  28. Farag AM, May T, Marty GD, Easton M, Harper DD, Little EE, et al. The effect of chronic chromium exposure on the health of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Aquat Toxicol. 2006;76(3–4):246–257.
  29. Van der Putte I, Van der Galiën W, Strik JJTWA. Effects of hexavalent chromium in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) after prolonged exposure at two different pH levels. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1982;6(3):246–57.
  30. Faroon O, Ashizawa A, Wright S, et al. Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. Atlanta (GA): Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (US); 2012;pp:11-15.
  31. Yeşilbudak B, Erdem C. Cadmium accumulation in gill, liver, kidney and muscle tissues of common carp, Cyprinus carpio, and nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 2014;92(5):546–550.
  32. Borgmann U, Couillard Y, Doyle P, Dixon DG. Toxicity of sixty-three metals and metalloids to Hyalella azteca at two levels of water hardness. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2005;24(3):641-52.
  33. Muntau H, Baudo R. Sources of cadmium, its distribution and turnover in the freshwater environment. IARC Sci Publ. 1992;118:133-48.
  34. Järup L. Hazards of heavy metal contamination [Internet]. Vol. 68, British Medical Bulletin. Br Med Bull 2003;68:167-82.
  35. Perera P, Kodithu PS, Sundara VT, Edirisingh U. Bioaccumulation of Cadmium in Freshwater Fish: An Environmental Perspective. Insight Ecol. 2015;4(1):1–12.
  36. Li H, Mai K, Ai Q, Zhang C, Zhang L. Effects of dietary squid viscera meal on growth and cadmium accumulation in tissues of large yellow croaker, Pseudosciaena crocea R. Front Agric China. 2009;3(1):78–83.
  37. Wang Y, Fang J, Leonard SS, Rao KM. Cadmium inhibits the electron transfer chain and induces Reactive Oxygen Species. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004;36(11):1434–43.
  38. Jia X, Zhang H, Liu X. Low levels of cadmium exposure induce DNA damage and oxidative stress in the liver of Oujiang colored common carp Cyprinus carpio var. color. Fish Physiol Biochem [Internet]. 2011;37(1):97–103.
  39. Verbost PM, Flik G, Lock RAC, Wendelaar Bonga SE. Cadmium inhibition of Ca2+ uptake in rainbow trout gills. Am J Physiol. 1987;253(2 Pt 2):R216-21.
  40. Cavas T, Garanko NN, Arkhipchuk V V. Induction of micronuclei and binuclei in blood, gill and liver cells of fishes subchronically exposed to cadmium chloride and copper sulphate. Food Chem Toxicol. 2005;43(4):569–74.
  41. Omer SA, Elobeid MA, Fouad D, Daghestani MH, Al-Olayan EM, Elamin MH, et al. Cadmium Bioaccumulation and Toxicity in Tilapia Fish (Oreochromis niloticus). J Anim Vet Adv. 2012;11(10):1601–6.
  42. Cicik B, Engin K. The effects of cadmium on levels of glucose in serum and glycogen reserves in the liver and muscle tissues of Cyprinus carpio (L., 1758). Turkish J Vet Anim Sci. 2005;29(1).
  43. Gill TS, Epple A. Stress-related changes in the hematological profile of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1993;25(2):227–35.
  44. Vetillard A, Bailhache T. Cadmium: An Endocrine Disrupter That Affects Gene Expression in the Liver and Brain of Juvenile Rainbow Trout1. Biol Reprod. 2005;72(1):119–26.
  45. Das S, Mukherjee D. Effect of cadmium chloride on secretion of 17β-estradiol by the ovarian follicles of common carp, Cyprinus carpio. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013;181(1):107–14
  46. Witeska M, Sarnowski P, Ługowska K, Kowal E. The effects of cadmium and copper on embryonic and larval development of ide Leuciscus idus L. Fish Physiol Biochem. 2014;40(1):151–63.
  47. Handy RD. The assessment of episodic metal pollution. I. Uses and limitations of tissue contaminant analysis in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) after short waterborne exposure to cadmium or copper. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1992;22(1):74–81.
  48. Mendil D, Demirci Z, Tuzen M, Soylak M. Seasonal investigation of trace element contents in commercially valuable fish species from the Black sea, Turkey. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010;48(3):865–70.
  49. Panagos P, Ballabio C, Lugato E, Jones A, Borrelli P, Scarpa S, et al. Potential sources of anthropogenic copper inputs to European agricultural soils. Sustain. 2018;10(7):2380.
  50. Sorensen EMB. Metal Poisoning in Fish. 1948. Paperback:  0-8943-4268-6.
  51. Richard Bull. Copper in Drinking Water. 2000. Paperback: 978-0-309-06939-7.
  52. Carol Ann Woody B, Louise SO. Effects of Copper on Fish and Aquatic Resources Prepared for Effects of Copper on Fish and Aquatic Resources. Fisheries Research and ConsultingAnchorage 2012;pp1-27.
  53. Nordberg GF, Fowler BA, Nordberg M, Friberg LT. Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals.. Elsevier Inc.; 2007.pp:1-9.
  54. Dang F, Zhong H, Wang WX. Copper uptake kinetics and regulation in a marine fish after waterborne copper acclimation. Aquat Toxicol. 2009;94(3):238–44.
  55. Eyckmans M, Celis N, Horemans N, Blust R, De Boeck G. Exposure to waterborne copper reveals differences in oxidative stress response in three freshwater fish species. Aquat Toxicol. 2011;103(1–2):112–20.
  56. Yacoub AM, Gad NS. Accumulation of some heavy metals and biochemical alterations in muscles of Oreochromis niloticus from the River Nile in Upper Egypt     Int. J. Environ. Sci. Engg. 2012;3:1-10.
  57. Monteiro SM, dos Santos NMS, Calejo M, Fontainhas-Fernandes A, Sousa M. Copper toxicity in gills of the teleost fish, Oreochromis niloticus: Effects in apoptosis induction and cell proliferation. Aquat Toxicol. 2009;94(3):219–228.
  58. Varanka Z, Rojik I, Varanka I, Nemcsók J, Ábrahám M. Biochemical and morphological changes in carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) liver following exposure to copper sulfate and tannic acid. Comp Biochem Physiol - C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2001;128(2):467–77.
  59. Gainey LF, Kenyon JR. The effects of reserpine on copper induced cardiac inhibition in Mytilus edulis. Comp Biochem Physiol Part C, Comp. 1990;95(2):177–9.
  60. Cyriac PJ, Antony A, Nambisan PNK. Hemoglobin and hematocrit values in the fish Oreochromis mossambicus (peters) after short term exposure to copper and mercury. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1989;43(2):315–320.
  61. Mcintyre JK, Baldwin DH, Meador JP, Scholz NL. Chemosensory deprivation in juvenile coho salmon exposed to dissolved copper under varying water chemistry conditions. Environ Sci Technol. 2008;42(4):1352–8.
  62. Johnson A, Carew E, Sloman KA. The effects of copper on the morphological and functional development of zebrafish embryos. Aquat Toxicol. 2007;84(4):431–8.
  63. Kong X, Jiang H, Wang S, Wu X, Fei W, Li L, et al. Effects of copper exposure on the hatching status and antioxidant defense at different developmental stages of embryos and larvae of goldfish Carassius auratus. Chemosphere. 2013;92(11):1458–64.
  64. Bawuro AA, Voegborlo RB, Adimado AA. Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metals in Some Tissues of Fish in Lake Geriyo, Adamawa State, Nigeria. J Environ Public Health. 2018;2018:1854892-7.
  65. Abadin H, Ashizawa A, Stevens YW, Llados F, Diamond G, Sage G, et al. Potential for human exposure. 2007; pp301-380.
  66. Radi AAR, Matkovics B. Effects of metal ions on the antioxidant enzyme activities, protein contents and lipid peroxidation of carp tissues. Comp Biochem Physiol Part C, Comp. 1988;90(1):69–72.
  67. Sepe A, Ciaralli L, Ciprotti M, Giordano R, Funari E, Costantini S. Determination of cadmium, chromium, lead and vanadium in six fish species from the Adriatic Sea. Food Addit Contam. 2003;20(6):543–52.
  68. Afshan S, Ali S, Ameen U, Farid M, Bharwana S, Hannan F, et al. Effect of Different Heavy Metal Pollution on Fish. Research Journal of Chemical and Environmental Sciences. 2014;2: 74-79.
  69. Taee SKA, Karam H, Ismail HK. Review On Some Heavy Metals Toxicity On Freshwater Fishes. J Appl Vet Sci. 2020;5(3):78–86.
  70. Katti SR, Sathyanesan AC. Lead nitrate induced changes in lipid and cholesterol levels in the freshwater fish Clarias batrachus. Toxicol Lett. 1983;19(1–2):93–6.
  71. Olojo EAA, Olurin KB, Mbaka G, Oluwemimo AD. Histopathology of the gill and liver tissues of the African catfish Clarias gariepinus exposed to lead. African J Biotechnol. 2005;4(1).
  72. Biswas S, Ghosh AR. Lead induced histological alterations in ovarian tissue of freshwater teleost Mastacembelus pancalus (Hamilton). Int J Adv Sci Res. 2016;2(1):45.
  73. Tanekhy M. Lead poisoning in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus): oxidant and antioxidant relationship. Environ Monit Assess. 2015;187(4):154.
  74. Shah SL. Alterations in The Immunological Parameters of Tench (Tinca tinca L. 1758) After Acute and Chronic Exposure to Lethal and Sublethal Treatments with Mercury, Cadmium and Lead. Turkish J Vet Anim Sci. 2005;29:1163-1168.
  75. Lee JW, Choi H, Hwang UK, Kang JC, Kang YJ, Kim K Il, et al. Toxic effects of lead exposure on bioaccumulation, oxidative stress, neurotoxicity, and immune responses in fish: A review. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2019;68:101-108.
  76. Cretì P, Trinchella F, Scudiero R. Heavy metal bioaccumulation and metallothionein content in tissues of the sea bream Sparus aurata from three different fish farming systems. Environ Monit Assess. 2010;165(1–4):321–329.
  77. Hou JL, Zhuang P, Zhang LZ, Feng L, Zhang T, Liu JY, et al. Morphological deformities and recovery, accumulation and elimination of lead in body tissues of Chinese sturgeon, Acipenser sinensis, early life stages: A laboratory study. J Appl Ichthyol. 2011;27(2):514–519.
  78. Al-Attar AM. The influences of nickel exposure on selected physiological parameters and gill structure in teh teleost fish, Oreochromis niloticus. J Biol Sci. 2007 1;7(1):77–85.
  79. Magyarosy A, Laidlaw R, Kilaas R, Echer C, Clark D, Keasling J. Nickel accumulation and nickel oxalate precipitation by Aspergillus niger. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2002;59(2–3):382–8.
  80. Exp Abou-Hadeed AH, Ibrahim KM, El-Sharkawy NI, Sakr FMS, El-Hamed SAA. Experimental studies on nickel toxicity in Nile tilapia health. 8th International Symposium on Tilapia in Aquaculture 2008; 1385-1401.
  81. Athikesavan S, Vincent S, Ambrose T, Velmurugan B. Nickel induced histopathological changes in the different tissues of freshwater fish, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (Valenciennes). J Environ Biol. 2006;27(2 Suppl):391-395.
  82. Binet MT, Adams MS, Gissi F, Golding LA, Schlekat CE, Garman ER, et al. Toxicity of nickel to tropical freshwater and sediment biota: A critical literature review and gap analysis. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2018;37(2):293–317.
  83. Atli G. The Effect of Waterborne Mercury and Nickel on the ATPases and AChE Activities in the Brain of Freshwater Fish (Oreochromis niloticus) Depending on the Ca 2+ Concentrations. Turk J Fish and Aquat Sci. 2018;19(5):363–371.
  84. Palermo FF, Risso WE, Simonato JD, Martinez CB. Bioaccumulation of nickel and its biochemical and genotoxic effects on juveniles of the neotropical fish Prochilodus lineatus. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2015;116:19-28.
  85. Al-Ghanim KA. Impact of nickel (Ni) on hematological parameters and behavioral changes in Cyprinus carpio (common carp). African J Biotechnol. 2011;10(63):13860–6.
  86. Sreedevi P, Sivaramakrishna B, Suresh A, Radhakrishnaiah K. Effect of nickel on some aspects of protein metabolism in the gill and kidney of the freshwater fish, Cyprinus carpio L. Environ Pollut. 1992;77(1):59–63.
  87. Khangarot BS, Ray PK. Acute toxicity and toxic interaction of chromium and nickel to common guppy Poecilia reticulata (Peters). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1990;44(6):832–9.
  88. Ghazaly KS. Sublethal effects of nickel on carbohydrate metabolism, blood and mineral contents of Tilapia nilotica. Water, Air, Soil Pollut. 1992;64(3–4):525–32.
  89. Han JM, Park HJ, Kim JH, Jeong DS, Kang JC. Toxic effects of arsenic on growth, hematological parameters, and plasma components of starry flounder, Platichthys stellatus, at two water temperature conditions. Fish Aquat Sci. 2019;22(1):3.
  90. Min E, Jeong JW, Kang J-C. Thermal effects on antioxidant enzymes response in Tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus exposed Arsenic. J Fish Pathol. 2014;27(2):115–25.
  91. Kumari B, Kumar V, Sinha AK, Ahsan J, Ghosh AK, Wang H, et al. Toxicology of arsenic in fish and aquatic systems. Environ Chem Lett. 2017;15:43–64.
  92. Ahmed MK, Habibullah-Al-Mamun M, Parvin E, Akter MS, Khan MS. Arsenic induced toxicity and histopathological changes in gill and liver tissue of freshwater fish, tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2013;65(6):903–9.
  93. Tripathi S, Sahu DB, Kumar R, Kumar A. Effect of acute exposure of sodium arsenite (Na3 Aso3) on some haematological parameters of Clarias batrachus (common Indian cat fish) in vivo. Indian J Environ Health. 2003;45(3):183-188
  94. Hossain M. Effect of Arsenic (NaAsO2) on the Histological Change of Snakehead Fish, Channa punctata. J Life Earth Sci. 2014;7:67–70.
  95. Ishaque AB, Tchounwou PB, Wilson BA, Washington T. Developmental arrest in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryos exposed to sublethal concentrations of atrazine and arsenic trioxide. J Environ Biol. 2004;25(1):1-6
  96. Ghosh D, Bhattacharya S, Mazumder S. Perturbations in the catfish immune responses by arsenic: Organ and cell specific effects. Comp Biochem Physiol-C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2006;143(4):455–463.
  97. Kothary RK, Candido EP. Induction of a novel set of polypeptides by heat shock or sodium arsenite in cultured cells of rainbow trout, Salmo gairdnerii. Can J Biochem. 1982;60(3):347–355.
  98. Dangleben NL, Skibola CF, Smith MT. Arsenic immunotoxicity: a review. Environ Health. 2013;12(1):73.
  99. Wang YC, Chaung RH, Tung LC. Comparison of the cytotoxicity induced by different exposure to sodium arsenite in two fish cell lines. Aquat Toxicol. 2004;69(1):67–79.
  100. Shukla JP, Pandey K. Impaired ovarian functions in arsenic-treated freshwater fish, Colisa fasciatus (BL. and SCH.). Toxicol Lett. 1984;20(1):1–3.
  101. Pack EC, Lee SH, Kim CH, Lim CH, Sung DG, Kim MH, et al. Effects of environmental temperature change on mercury absorption in aquatic organisms with respect to climate warming. J Toxicol Environ Heal - Part A Curr Issues. 2014;77:1477–90.
  102. Boening DW. Ecological effects, transport, and fate of mercury: A general review. Chemosphere. 2000;40(12):1335–51.
  103. Morel FMM, Kraepiel AML, Amyot M. The chemical cycle and bioaccumulation of mercury. Annu Rev Ecol Syst. 1998;29(1): 543–566.
  104. Amlund H, Lundebye AK, Berntssen MHG. Accumulation and elimination of methylmercury in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) following dietary exposure. Aquat Toxicol. 2007;83(4): 323–330.
  105. Nøstbakken OJ, Hove HT, Duinker A, Lundebye AK, Berntssen MHG, Hannisdal R, et al. Contaminant levels in Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011. Environ Int. 2015;74: 274–280.
  106. Svobodová Z, Lloyd R, Máchová J, Vykusová B. Water quality and fish health. EIFAC Technical Paper. 1993;54: 59.
  107. Baatrup E. Structural and functional effects of heavy metals on the nervous system, including sense organs, of fish. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Comparative Pharmacology. 1991;100(1): 253-257.
  108. Kirubagaran R, Joy KP. Toxic effects of three mercurial compounds on survival, and histology of the kidney of the catfish Clarias batrachus (L.). Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1988;15(2): 171–1799.
  109. Mona S, Elbattrawy N, Olfat F, Isis A, Nagwa S. Effect of Mercuric Oxide Toxicity on some Biochemical Parameters on African Cat Fish Clarias gariepinus Present in the River Nile. Life Science Journal.2011;8: 363-368.
  110. Begam M, Sengupta M. Immunomodulation of intestinal macrophages by mercury involves oxidative damage and rise of pro-inflammatory cytokine release in thefresh water fish Channa punctatus Bloch. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2015;45(2): 378–385.
  111. Zhang QF, Li YW, Liu ZH, Chen QL. Reproductive toxicity of inorganic mercury exposure in adult zebrafish: Histological damage, oxidative stress, and alterations of sex hormone and gene expression in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Aquat Toxicol. 2016;177: 417–424.
  112. Vergilio CS, Moreira R V, Carvalho CE V, Melo EJT. Histopathological Effects of Mercury on Male Gonad and Sperm of Tropical Fish Gymnotus carapo in vitro. E3S Web of Conferences. 2013;1: 12004.
  113. Bradley MA, Barst BD, Basu N. A review of mercury bioavailability in humans and fish. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14: 169.
  114. Giblin FJ, Massaro EJ. The erythrocyte transport and transfer of methylmercury to the tissues of the rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). Toxicology. 1975;5(2): 243–254.
  115. Evans DW, Dodoo DK, Hanson PJ. Trace element concentrations in fish livers: Implications of variations with fish size in pollution monitoring. Mar Pollut Bull. 1993;26(6): 329–334.
  116. Wuana RA, Okieimen FE. Heavy Metals in Contaminated Soils: A Review of Sources, Chemistry, Risks and Best Available Strategies for Remediation. ISRN Ecol. 2011;2011:1–20.
  117. MacDonald RS. The role of zinc in growth and cell proliferation. In: Journal of Nutrition. American Institute of Nutrition; 2000;130(5): 1500-1508.
  118. Chatterjee A, Bhattacharya R, Saha NC. Zinc oxide (ZnO) induced toxicity and behavioural changes to oligochaete worm Tubifex tubifex (Muller). Int J Sci Res Biol Sci. 2019;6(2): 35–42.
  119. Azaman F, Juahir H, Yunus K, Azid A, Kamarudin MKA, Toriman ME, et al. Heavy metal in fish: Analysis and human health-a review. J Techn. 2015;77(1): 61–69.
  120. Skidmore JF. Toxicity of Zinc Compounds to Aquatic Animals, With Special Reference to Fish. Q Rev Biol. 1964;39: 227–248.
  121. McRae NK, Gaw S, Glover CN. Mechanisms of zinc toxicity in the galaxiid fish, Galaxias maculatus. Comp Biochem Physiol Part - C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016;179: 184–190.
  122. Ayotunde EO, Fagbenro OA, Adebayo OT. Histological changes in Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus I779) exposed to aqueous extract of Moringa oleifera seeds powder. Turkish J Fish Aquat Sci. 2011;11(1): 37–43.
  123. Salvaggio A, Marino F, Albano M, Pecoraro R, Camiolo G, Tibullo D, et al. Toxic Effects of Zinc Chloride on the Bone Development in Danio rerio (Hamilton, 1822). Front Physiol. 2016;7: 153.
  124. Bengtsson BE. Effect of zinc on the movement pattern of the minnow, Phoxinus phoxinus L. Water Res. 1974;8(10): 829–33.
  125. Loro VL, Jorge MB, Silva KR da, Wood CM. Oxidative stress parameters and antioxidant response to sublethal waterborne zinc in a euryhaline teleost Fundulus heteroclitus: Protective effects of salinity. Aquat Toxicol. 2012;110–111:187–93.
  126. Spry DJ, Hodson P V, Wood CM.  Relative Contributions of Dietary and Waterborne Zinc in the Rainbow Trout, Salmo gairdneri . Can J Fish Aquat Sci. 1988;45(1):32–41.
  127. Murugan SS, Karuppasamy R, Poongodi K, Puvaneswari S. Bioaccumulation pattern of zinc in freshwater fish Channa punctatus (Bloch.) after chronic exposure. Turkish J Fish Aquat Sci. 2008;8(1): 55-59.
  128. Sivaperumal P, Sankar T V, Viswanathan Nair PG. Heavy metal concentrations in fish, shellfish and fish products from internal markets of India vis-a-vis international standards. Food Chem. 2007;102(3): 612-620.
  129. Abadi DRV, Dobaradaran S, Nabipour I, Lamani X, Ravanipour M, Tahmasebi R, et al. Comparative investigation of heavy metal, trace, and macro element contents in commercially valuable fish species harvested off from the Persian Gulf. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 2015;22(9): 6670–6678.
  130. Sfakianakis DG, Renieri E, Kentouri M, Tsatsakis AM. Effect of heavy metals on fish larvae deformities: A review. Environ Res. 2015;137: 246-255.
  131. Lushchak VI. Contaminant-induced oxidative stress in fish: a mechanistic approach. Fish Physiol. Biochem. 2016;42: 711-747.
  132. Stohs SJ, Bagchi D. Oxidative mechanisms in the toxicity of metal ions. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 1995;18: 321-336.
  133. Sevcikova M, Modra H, Slaninova A, Svobodova Z. Metals as a cause of oxidative stress in fish: A review. Vet Med. 2011;56: 537-546.
  134. Mondal P, Chatterjee A, Garai P, Mukherjee A, Saha NC. Therapeutic Effects of Metronidazole Benzoate in Combination With Melatonin in Diplomonad Parasite Infection on Anabas testudineus. Biosc. Biotech. Res. Comm. 2020;13(4).
  135. Mondal P, Garai P, Chatterjee A, Saha NC. Toxicological and therapeutic effects of neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf powder in hole-in-the-head (HITH) disease of fish Anabas testudineus. Aquac Res. 2020;Vol 52(2): 715-723
  136. Smirnov LP, Sukhovskaya I V., Nemova NN. Effects of environmental factors on low-molecular-weight peptides of fishes: A review. Russ J Ecol. 2005;36: 41–47.
  137. Wang WC, Mao H, Ma DD, Yang WX. Characteristics, functions, and applications of metallothionein in aquatic vertebrates. Front. Mar. Sci. 2014;1: 34
  138. Chen QY, DesMarais T, Costa M. Metals and mechanisms of carcinogenesis. Annu. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 2019;59: 537-554.
  139. Cicero CE, Mostile G, Vasta R, Rapisarda V, Signorelli SS, Ferrante M, et al. Metals and neurodegenerative diseases. A systematic review. Environ Res. 2017;159: 82-94.

Author Info

Pramita Garai1, Priyajit Banerjee1, Pradip Mondal2 and Nimai Chandra Saha1*
1Department of Zoology, Hopital Fisheries and Ecotoxicology Research Laboratory, University of Burdwan, Burdwan, West Bengal, India
2Department of Zoology, Netaji Mahavidyalaya, Arambagh, Hooghly, West Bengal, India

Citation: Garai P, Banerjee P, Mondal P, Saha NC (2021) Effect of Heavy Metals on Fishes: Toxicity and Bioaccumulation. J Clin Toxicol. S18:001.

Received: 12-May-2021 Accepted: 28-May-2021 Published: 05-Jun-2021 , DOI: 10.35248/2161-0495.21.s18.001

Copyright: © 2021 Garai P, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.