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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1996 Nov-Dec;18(6):659-70.

Domoic acid: neurobehavioral and neurohistological effects of low-dose exposure in adult rats.

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  • 1Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204, USA.


Adult rats treated IP with domoic acid at 0, 0.22, 0.65, or 1.32 mg/kg were tested for passive avoidance (PA), auditory startle (AS), or conditioned avoidance (CAR) behaviors. Clinical signs were observed only at the 1.32 mg/kg dose level. Within 24 h of dosing, rats surviving a dose of 1.32 mg/kg exhibited transient decreased body weight and exaggerated AS responding. Startle latency and habituation, PA, and CAR were not affected. Examination of brains from six rats per group revealed a subset (2/6) of animals receiving 1.32 mg/kg domoic acid with degenerating neurons in the hippocampal CA1/CA3 subregions and gliosis. The decreased body weight and increased startle suggest a hyperreactivity syndrome possibly related to neuronal degeneration in the hippocampus. In a separate experiment, domoic acid at an IP dose of 0.93 mg/kg was found to produce hypomotility in addition to a decrease in body weight. Both effects were reduced by pretreatment with scopolamine (2 mg/kg), but not with caffeine (30 mg/kg), indicating a possible cholinergic involvement in domoate's toxicity.

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