Two groups of 11 harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) with different body burdens of organochlorines were subjected to an experimental 15-day fasting period, during which they lost an average 16.5% of their body weights. Blood levels of the most persistent organochlorines showed an approximate twofold increase, while levels of aryl hydrocarbon receptor-binding organochlorines remained largely unaffected. Few differences in immunological parameters were observed between the two dietary groups. Numbers of circulating lymphocytes dropped to about 65% of the initial values and NK cell activity showed a slight increase in both groups. Mitogen- and antigen-induced lymphoproliferative responses of the Baltic group of seals remained within normal ranges. These results suggest that relatively short-term fasting periods do not present an additional immunotoxicological risk to seals with high body burdens of organochlorines.

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Journal Chemosphere
de Swart, R.L, Ross, P.S, Timmerman, H.H, Hijman, W.C, de Ruiter, E.M, Liem, A.K.D, … Osterhaus, A.D.M.E. (1995). Short term fasting does not aggravate immunosuppression in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) with high body burdens of organochlorines. Chemosphere, 31(10), 4289–4306. doi:10.1016/0045-6535(95)00298-M