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Environ Monit Assess. 2013 Feb;185(2):1137-50. doi: 10.1007/s10661-012-2621-1. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Seasonal variation of Sarpa salpa fish toxicity, as related to phytoplankton consumption, accumulation of heavy metals, lipids peroxidation level in fish tissues and toxicity upon mice.

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  • 1Sciences Faculty of Sfax, BP 1171, 3000 Sfax, Tunisia.


The aim of this work was to investigate for Sarpa salpa the seasonal trend in the food sources, heavy metals bioaccumulation and the oxidative stress in the organs. In addition, the toxicity was assessed by mouse bioassay of extract of the fish's organs collected in autumn, the peak of occurrence of hallucinatory syndrome. The toxicity was further studied for compounds present in epiphyte collected from the sea at the end of spring and in summer that are digested by the S. salpa in these seasons. We observed a higher lipid peroxydation in different tissues of S. salpa compared to the control fish Diplodus annularis. Furthermore, heavy metals accumulation in organs of these fish showed a significant variation between the two species (P < 0.05). The lethal dose (LD50%) determined for crude ciguatoxin (neurotoxins) extracts of viscera, liver, brain and muscle of S. salpa were as follows: 1.217, 2.195, 14.395, 18.645 g/kg mouse, respectively. We noticed a significant correlation (P < 0.05) between the total amount of toxic dinoflagellates and the level of TBARS in the liver, the brain and the muscle, this for all seasons and all sizes. Moreover, the cytotoxic effect observed for epiphytes extract confirms the transfer of toxins originating from toxic dinoflagellates, which live as epiphytes on P. oceanica leaves, to the fish by grazing. Our work indicates that, toxic phytoplanktons and heavy metals accumulation are responsible for the increase of oxidative stress in the organs of S. salpa. Hence, the edible part of S. salpa, especially the viscera and liver, can cause a threat to human health, and consumption should, for this reason, be dissuaded.

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