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Hum Exp Toxicol. 1999 Mar;18(3):162-7.

The toxicity of cyanobacterial toxins in the mouse: I microcystin-LR.

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WRc National Centre for Environmental Toxicology, Medmenham, Bucks, England.


Blooms of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae are known to have caused poisoning in fish, waterfowl, animals and man. One of the toxins responsible for this is the hepatotoxin microcystin-LR which has been found to occur in blooms present intermittently in sources used for domestic water supplies. Three sets of experiments were undertaken to investigate the acute toxicity of microcystin-LR in mice and rats by the oral and intraperitoneal routes, the potential for effects on foetal development in the mouse, and the effects of repeated oral dosing over 13 weeks in the mouse. The results of this work were as follows: (1) Microcystin-LR is 30-100 times less toxic via oral ingestion than via intraperitoneal injection; (2) Microcystin-LR is not a selective developmental toxicant in the mouse. There was a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) of 600 microg kg(-1) bodyweight per day given on days 6-15 of pregnancy for any form of developmental toxicity; (3) There was a clear NOAEL for tissue damage in the liver of 40 microg kg(-1) bodyweight per day of microcystin-LR. Using this data, a value of 1 microg l(-1) microcystin-LR would be an appropriate guideline value for drinking water.

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