Protecting Fish Health with Milk Thistle After Pesticide Exposure

Jim Crocker
10th April, 2024

Protecting Fish Health with Milk Thistle After Pesticide Exposure

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Panjab University's study, Deltamethrin pesticide was found to harm common carp's liver, kidney, and blood health
  • The study observed genetic damage and abnormal red blood cells in the fish, indicating compromised cell health
  • Adding Silymarin to the fish diet improved their health, suggesting it can protect against pesticide damage
In recent years, the use of pesticides has raised concerns about their effects on non-target aquatic species. Deltamethrin, a common pesticide, is known to cause adverse effects on fish, a vital part of aquatic ecosystems and human diet. A new study from Panjab University[1] has explored a promising solution to this problem by using Silymarin, an extract from the milk thistle plant, to counteract the negative impacts of Deltamethrin on fish health. The study focused on the common carp, Cyprinus carpio, a species widely distributed in freshwater habitats. Researchers exposed the fish to Deltamethrin and then assessed various health indicators such as enzyme levels, kidney function, blood sugar, cholesterol, and overall blood health. The findings showed that the pesticide exposure led to significant increases in enzymes that indicate liver damage (AST, ALT, ALP), blood urea nitrogen, creatinine (a kidney function marker), glucose, cholesterol, and total leukocyte count (TLC), which is a measure of immune response. Additionally, fish had lower levels of total protein, total erythrocyte count (TEC), and hemoglobin (Hb), which are critical for maintaining healthy blood and transporting oxygen. Furthermore, the study revealed an increase in micronuclei and various erythrocyte abnormalities, such as acanthocytes (spiky red blood cells), microcytes (small red blood cells), and notched cells. These changes are concerning as they indicate genetic damage and compromised cell health. Ultrastructural examination also revealed phenotypic deformities in red blood cells, including spherocytosis (sphere-shaped red blood cells), discocytes (disc-shaped red blood cells), and clumped erythrocytes, which can impair the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity. However, when Silymarin was included in the diet of the fish exposed to Deltamethrin, a significant improvement was observed. The plant extract appeared to alleviate the biochemical, genetic, and cellular damage caused by the pesticide, suggesting its potential as a protective agent against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and genotoxicity. This recent research builds upon earlier studies that have documented the impact of various pollutants on aquatic life. For instance, a study on the effects of silver nanoparticles on goldfish[2] found that these emerging pollutants could lead to reduced growth rates, significant changes in blood indices, and delayed sexual maturity. Similarly, research on the combined effects of moderate hypoxia and pollutants such as pesticides and PCBs on crucian carp[3] showed that these stressors could heavily impact the fish's energy metabolism and endocrine system, leading to biochemical and physiological changes, as well as organ damage. Moreover, a study on the genotoxic effects of cypermethrin, another pesticide, on the fish Catla catla[4], demonstrated that environmentally relevant concentrations of the chemical could cause DNA damage and erythrocyte abnormalities. These findings align with the recent study's observations of genotoxicity and cellular damage in common carp exposed to Deltamethrin. The Panjab University study not only corroborates these earlier findings but also expands our understanding by suggesting a natural remedy that could mitigate the adverse effects of pesticides on fish. By exploring the protective role of Silymarin, the study offers a potential strategy for safeguarding aquatic organisms against the toxic effects of commonly used pesticides. The implications of this research are significant for environmental protection and aquaculture. By integrating plant-based supplements like Silymarin into fish diets, we could potentially reduce the ecological and economic impacts of pesticide pollution in aquatic systems. This approach could help maintain healthy fish populations, which are crucial for biodiversity and human consumption, while also addressing the broader issue of environmental contaminants.



Main Study

1) Mitigation of haemato-genotoxic and stress response effects in Cyprinus carpio via silymarin dietary supplementation following deltamethrin exposure.

Published 15th April, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Effect of long-term exposure of silver nanoparticles on growth indices, hematological and biochemical parameters and gonad histology of male goldfish (Carassius auratus gibelio).

3) Combined effects of moderate hypoxia, pesticides and PCBs upon crucian carp fish, Carassius carassius, from a freshwater lake- in situ ecophysiological approach.

4) In vivo genotoxic effects of commercial grade cypermethrin on fish peripheral erythrocytes.

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