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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 109386, 6 pages
Research Article

Metallothionein Induction in the Coelomic Fluid of the Earthworm Lumbricus terrestris following Heavy Metal Exposure: A Short Report

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce-Monteroni, Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy

Received 19 November 2013; Accepted 25 February 2014; Published 3 April 2014

Academic Editor: Anilava Kaviraj

Copyright © 2014 A. Calisi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Earthworms are useful bioindicator organisms for soil biomonitoring. Recently the use of pollution biomarkers in earthworms has been increasingly investigated for soil monitoring and assessment. Earthworm coelomic fluid is particularly interesting from a toxicological perspective, because it is responsible for pollutant disposition and tissue distribution to the whole organism. The aim of the present work was to study the effect of heavy metal exposure on metallothionein (Mt) induction in the coelomic fluid of Lumbricus terrestris in view of future use as sensitive biomarker suitable for application to metal polluted soil monitoring and assessment. L. terrestris coelomic fluid showed a detectable Mt concentration of about μg/mL (mean ± SEM, ) in basal physiological condition. When the animals were exposed to CuSO4 or CdCl2 or to a mixture of the two metals in OECD soils for 72 h, the Mt specific concentration significantly ( ) increased. The Mt response in the coelomic fluid perfectly reflected the commonly used Mt response in the whole organism when the two responses were compared on the same specimens. These findings indicate the suitability of Mt determination in L. terrestris coelomic fluid as a sensitive biomarker for application to metal polluted soil monitoring and assessment.