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Inhal Toxicol. 2006 Dec;18(14):1109-16.

Brevetoxin-induced neural insult in the retrosplenial cortex of mouse brain.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Georgia Athens, Georgia, USA.


Brevetoxins (polyether breve toxins; PbTx) are polyether neurotoxins produced by the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, an organism associated with red tide blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast from Florida to North Carolina. Brevetoxin-3 (PbTx-3) is a major component of the array of brevetoxins found in marine aerosols measured along red tide affected beaches. Humans exposed to aerosolized brevetoxins for short periods of time often suffer a variety of adverse health effects. It was consequently of interest to assess the potential for aerosolized brevetoxin to produce a neurotoxic response. Female BALB/c mice were exposed nose-only for 2 consecutive days to PbTx-3 aerosol, with a 2-h exposure on the first day and a 4-h exposure on the second day. The average PbTx-3 exposure concentrations on days 1 and 2 were 312 +/- 113 mug brevetoxin 3/m3 and 278 +/- 24 mug brevetoxin 3/m3, respectively. The brevetoxin-containing aerosol had a mass median aerodynamic diameter of 0.92 mum with a geometric standard deviation of 1.38. Coronal sections of mouse brains were evaluated for neuronal damage using both silver and Fluoro-Jade B staining to identify degenerating neuronal elements. PbTx-3 inhalation exposure produced neuronal degeneration in the posterior cingulate/retrosplenial cortex of mice as evidenced by silver-positive degenerating neurons in this region. No staining was found in other regions of the PBTx-3-exposed mouse brains or in brains of control, sham-exposed mice. The existence of a neurotoxic insult in PbTx-3-exposed mice was confirmed using Fluoro-Jade B to label degenerating neurons. Fluro-Jade-positive neurons were observed in the retrosplenial cortex of PBTx-3 exposed, but not control, mice. These results suggest that subacute exposure to PbTx-3 for 2 days is sufficient to induce neuronal degeneration in a discrete region of the mouse cerebral cortex.

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