Detection of marine neurotoxins in food safety testing using a multielectrode array

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2014 Dec;58(12):2369-78. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400479. Epub 2014 Oct 28.


Scope: At the European level, detection of marine neurotoxins in seafood is still based on ethically debated and expensive in vivo rodent bioassays. The development of alternative methodologies for the detection of marine neurotoxins is therefore of utmost importance. We therefore investigated whether and to what extent a multielectrode array (MEA) approach can be used as an in vitro alternative for screening of marine neurotoxins potentially present in seafood.

Methods: This MEA approach utilizes rat cortical neurons comprising a wide range of ion channels/pumps and neurotransmitter receptors targeted by marine neurotoxins. We tested the effects of neurotoxic model compounds, pure marine neurotoxins, and extracts from contaminated seafood on neuronal activity of rat cortical neurons cultured on commercial 48-well plates to increase throughput.

Conclusion: We demonstrate that the MEA approach has a sensitivity of 88% (7/9 model compounds, 6/6 pure marine neurotoxins, and 2/2 marine neurotoxins present in seafood extracts were correctly identified) and a good reproducibility compared to existing in vitro alternatives. We therefore conclude that this MEA-based approach could be a valuable tool for future food safety testing.

Keywords: Food safety; Integrated testing strategies; Marine neurotoxins; Multielectrode array; Neuronal activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamides / analysis
  • Animal Use Alternatives
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ciguatoxins / analysis
  • Cnidarian Venoms
  • Fishes
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Safety / methods*
  • Kainic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Kainic Acid / analysis
  • Marine Toxins / analysis
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurotoxins / analysis*
  • Oxocins / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seafood / analysis*
  • Tetrodotoxin / analysis


  • Acrylamides
  • Cnidarian Venoms
  • Marine Toxins
  • Neurotoxins
  • Oxocins
  • Ciguatoxins
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • brevetoxin
  • domoic acid
  • palytoxin
  • Kainic Acid