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Analysis of the importance of lipid breakdown for elimination of okadaic acid (diarrhetic shellfish toxin) in mussels, Mytilus edulis: results from a field study and a laboratory experiment
Svensson, S.; Förlin, L. (2004). Analysis of the importance of lipid breakdown for elimination of okadaic acid (diarrhetic shellfish toxin) in mussels, Mytilus edulis: results from a field study and a laboratory experiment. Aquat. Toxicol. 66(4): 405-418.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning; Environmental factors; Lipids; Marine molluscs; Self purification; Mytilus edulis Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Sweden [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Svensson, S., correspondent
  • Förlin, L.

    Okadaic acid (OA) is a lipophilic phycotoxin, which accumulates in the digestive organs of mussels and may cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) in humans. Depuration of toxic mussels is a potential option for the shellfish industry to increase the availability of marketable mussels. To develop cost-effective depuration methods for DSP toxins, knowledge about the environmental conditions and physiological processes regulating the rate of depuration is essential. In this paper, the importance of lipid breakdown for elimination of OA in mussels was investigated by performing a field study and a manipulative laboratory experiment. First, total lipid content and concurrent concentration of OA in the digestive glands of farmed blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, was analysed on a monthly basis from January to June 2000. A significant positive correlation between levels of OA and lipid content was observed between January and March, when lipid levels were showing a decreasing trend. This supported a previously proposed model that breakdown of lipid stores may affect the release and elimination of this lipophilic toxin. To test this causal model, a laboratory experiment was performed. Mussels containing OA were exposed to experimental treatments (increased seawater temperature and/or food limitation) for 24 days in order to increase the energy requirements and need to use lipids as an energy source. It was predicted that mussels exposed to these treatments would have a faster elimination rate of OA compared to feeding mussels kept in ambient seawater temperature. The results showed that lipid content was significantly reduced in mussels exposed to an increased water temperature (24 °C) compared to ambient temperature (18 °C). The amount of lipids was not affected by food limitation. Although lipid content was reduced in 24 °C, the rate of depuration of OA was not faster for mussels in this treatment and no correlation was detected between lipid content and OA. Depuration rates were very similar for all treatments and followed an exponential decrease relationship (t1/2=8 days). Thus, the proposed model that lipid breakdown affects the mechanism of elimination of OA was not supported. Nevertheless, the observed rates of depuration provide useful information and a potential predictive tool for large-scale depuration methods of mussels. The difficulties to influence the rate of depuration of this toxin by changing the environmental conditions suggest that processes, insensitive to short-term manipulation of the external environment, regulate depuration of OA.

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