NOAA scientists and their colleagues have discovered a biological marker in the blood of laboratory zebrafish and marine mammals that shows when they have been repeatedly exposed to low levels of domoic acid, which is potentially toxic at high levels.
While little is known about how low-level exposure to domoic acid affects marine animals or humans, high-level exposure through eating contaminated seafood can be toxic, and can lead to amnesic shellfish poisoning, with symptoms such as seizures, short-term memory loss and, in rare cases, death. Domoic acid is produced by particular species of marine algae and accumulates in marine animals such as clams and mussels.
The findings are reported in a study published in Public Library of Science journal (PLoS ONE), a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Up until now, the absence of a marker for such chronic exposure has been a barrier to accurately assessing possible effects to humans.
"This study paves the way for creating reliable blood tests for low-level domoic acid exposure, which could help scientists assess the effects of chronic exposure to both wildlife and people who eat seafood," said Kathi Lefebvre, Ph.D., a NOAA fisheries biologist and the lead author of the study. "We don't know yet if the same antibody response we found in the laboratory in zebrafish and naturally exposed California sea lions also occurs in humans. Our next step is to team up with human-health experts to answer that question."
In the NOAA study, scientists injected zebrafish two to four times a month over nine months with low levels of domoic acid in the laboratory. Although the zebrafish appeared healthy after 18 weeks, scientists detected an antibody response for domoic acid in blood samples. Scientists found a similar antibody response in blood samples taken from wild sea lions from central California, confirming that natural exposure to the toxin produces a similar response in marine mammals.
The researchers also found that long-term, low-level exposure to domoic acid does not build tolerance or resistance to it, but instead makes zebrafish more sensitive to the neurotoxin.
Domoic acid was first identified as a shellfish toxin in 1987, after more than 100 people were sickened from eating contaminated mussels harvested off the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. In 1998, more than 400 California sea lions died on the U.S. west coast after consuming anchovies containing domoic acid.
Since the early 1990s, regular monitoring of shellfish has protected people from amnesic shellfish poisoning caused by high levels of domoic acid.
Lefebvre will continue to work with co-authors, John D. Hansen, Ph.D, an immunologist with the U.S. Geological Survey-Western Fisheries Research Center, Donald R. Smith, Ph.D., a toxicologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and David J. Marcinek, Ph.D., a physiologist at the University of Washington, to look for health consequences of low-level exposure to domoic acid using the antibody marker.
The study, "A Novel Antibody-Based Biomarker for Chronic Algal Toxin Exposure and Sub-Acute Neurotoxicity," was conducted by scientists with NOAA, the Marine Mammal Center, the U.S. Geological Survey-Western Fisheries Research Center, the University of Washington and the University of California Santa Cruz, and is available at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036213 Funding for the study was provided by NOAA's Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms program.
Brian Gorman | EurekAlert!
One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology