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Toxicon. 2008 Mar 1;51(3):418-27. Epub 2007 Nov 6.

First episode of shellfish contamination by palytoxin-like compounds from Ostreopsis species (Aegean Sea, Greece).

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Department of Botany, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 109, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece.


In order to investigate the toxicity of Ostreopsis species present in Greek coastal waters, cultures of Ostreopsis sp. and Ostreopsis ovata, mixed Ostreopsis field populations and shellfish collected from coastal waters of North Aegean Sea during late summer and autumn periods of 2004, 2005 and 2006 were examined by both mouse bioassay (MBA) and hemolysis neutralization assay (HNA). MBA testing was based on two different extraction protocols, while HNA also included the use of ouabain, a known palytoxin (PLT) antagonist. Results indicated the presence of a compound in both Ostreopsis cells and shellfish tissues, which was strongly toxic to mice. This compound exhibited characteristic symptomatology in mice (death, numbness, waddling gait and blindness) to that of PLT, as well as delayed hemolytic activity, which was neutralized by ouabain. HNA indicated that Ostreopsis cells contained a PLT-like compound (putative PLT, p-PLT) at concentrations ranging between 0.4 and 0.9 pg/cell, whereas concentration in shellfish tissues was estimated to range from about 33.3 to 97.0 microg p-PLT/kg tissue. To our knowledge, this is the first report of p-PLT contamination of shellfish by natural Ostreopsis species populations in European coastal waters and possibly globally, and also the first evidence on Ostreopsis cells' toxicity in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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