John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Applications and implications of neurochemical biomarkers in environmental toxicology

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Courtesy of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Thousands of environmental contaminants have neurotoxic properties though their ecological risk is poorly characterized. Contaminant‐associated disruptions to animal behavior and reproduction, both of which are regulated by the nervous system, provide compelling evidence of harm to decision makers but such apical endpoints are of limited predictive or harm preventative value. Neurochemical biomarkers, which may be used to indicate subtle changes at the subcellular level, may help overcome these limitations. Neurochemical biomarkers have been used for decades in the human health sciences and are now gaining increased attention in the environmental realm. In this review, the applications and implications of neurochemical biomarkers to the field of ecotoxicology are discussed. The paper provides a brief introduction to neurochemistry, covers neurochemical‐based adverse outcome pathways (AOPs), discusses pertinent strengths and limitations of neurochemical biomarkers, and provides selected examples across invertebrate and vertebrate taxa (worms, bivalves, fish, terrestrial and marine mammals, birds) to document contaminant‐associated neurochemical disruption. With continued research and development, neurochemical biomarkers may increase understanding of mechanisms that underlie injury to ecological organisms, complement other measures of neurological health, and be integrated into risk assessment practices. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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