Journal Article

First Identification of the Hepatotoxic Microcystins in the Serum of a Chronically Exposed Human Population Together with Indication of Hepatocellular Damage

Jun Chen, Ping Xie, Li Li and Jun Xu

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 108, issue 1, pages 81-89
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfp009
First Identification of the Hepatotoxic Microcystins in the Serum of a Chronically Exposed Human Population Together with Indication of Hepatocellular Damage

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Hepatotoxic microcystins (MCs) are the most commonly reported cyanotoxins in eutrophic freshwaters. In 1996, human intoxications by MCs caused deaths of 76 patients at Caruaru dialysis centers in Brazil. So far, there have been no direct evidences of MC occurrence in human tissue in consequence of exposure to MC. In this study, we improved cleanup procedures for detecting MCs in serum sample using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and confirmed for the first time the presence of MCs in serum samples (average 0.39 ng/ml, which amounts to ca. 1/87 of the concentrations found in tissue samples of the Caruaru victims) of fishermen at Lake Chaohu. Daily intake by the fishermen was estimated to be in the range of 2.2–3.9 μg MC-LReq, whereas the provisional World Health Organization tolerable daily intake (TDI) for daily lifetime exposure is 0.04 μg/kg or 2–3 μg per person. Moreover, statistical analysis showed closer positive relationships between MC serum concentrations and concentrations of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase than between the MC concentrations and other biochemical indicators. Thus, the data raise the question whether extended exposure in the range of the TDI or up to a factor of 10 above it may already lead to indication of liver damage. The results also demonstrate a risk of health effects from chronic exposure to MCs at least for populations with high levels of exposure, like these fishermen.

Keywords: serum microcystins; serum biochemical indices; natural chronic exposure; fishermen; hepatocellular damage

Journal Article.  5278 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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