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Aquat Toxicol. 2010 Nov 15;100(4):339-45. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.08.005. Epub 2010 Aug 24.

NMR-based metabolomic studies on the toxicological effects of cadmium and copper on green mussels Perna viridis.

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  • 1The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


Traditional toxicology studies have focused on selected biomarkers to characterize the biological stress induced by metals in marine organisms. In this study, a system biology tool, metabolomics, was applied to the marine mussel Perna viridis to investigate changes in the metabolic profiles of soft tissue as a response to copper (Cu) and cadmium (Cd), both as single metal and as a mixture. The major metabolite changes corresponding to metal exposure are related to amino acids, osmolytes, and energy metabolites. Following metal exposure for 1 week, there was a significant increase in the levels of branched chain amino acids, histidine, glutamate, glutamine, hypotaurine, dimethylglycine, arginine and ATP/ADP. For the Cu+Cd co-exposed mussels, the levels of lactate, branched chain amino acid, succinate, and NAD increased, whereas the levels of glucose, glycogen, and ATP/ADP decreased, indicating a different metabolic profile for the single metal exposure groups. After 2 weeks of exposure, the mussels showed acclimatization to Cd exposure based on the recovery of some metabolites. However, the metabolic profile induced by the metal mixture was very similar to that from Cu exposure, suggesting that Cu dominantly induced the metabolic disturbances. Both Cu and Cd may lead to neurotoxicity, disturbances in energy metabolism, and osmoregulation changes. These results demonstrate the high applicability and reliability of NMR-based metabolomics in interpreting the toxicological mechanisms of metals using global metabolic biomarkers.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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