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Environ Toxicol. 2006 Aug;21(4):299-304.

Cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) toxins in water supplies: Cylindrospermopsins.

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Pharmacology, School of Medical Science, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia and Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment, Bolivar, Adelaide, SA 5110, South Australia.


The toxic alkaloid cylindrospermopsin is produced by a range of cyanobacterial species worldwide. It was first identified in the species Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii from tropical waters, and has since been isolated from four other genera in locations ranging from Israel to Japan. High concentrations of the organisms and toxin have been identified in reservoirs, natural lakes, and rivers in summer in the USA and in Australia. The toxin is a particular problem in drinking water sources as concentrations in the free water are appreciable, so that removal of the filaments during water treatment does not remove the toxin. The toxicity resulting from oral ingestion is seen in the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestine, and white blood cells, with some vascular damage in mice. Gastrointestinal as well as liver injury has been observed in human poisoning. Studies of toxicity in vitro have shown inhibition of protein synthesis. Genotoxicity has also been demonstrated, and there is preliminary evidence for carcinogenicity. A Guideline Value for safe water supply of 1 microg/L has been proposed. Research into toxin measurement techniques and water treatment methods has indicated that effective control measures may be practicable for this toxin in drinking water. Considerably more research is needed to fully define the health risks from this toxin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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