In Vitro Analysis of Early Genotoxic and Cytotoxic Effects of Okadaic Acid in Different Cell Types of the Mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2015;78(13-14):814-24. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2015.1051173.


Okadaic acid (OA) is the predominant biotoxin responsible for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) syndrome in humans. While its harmful effects have been extensively studied in mammalian cell lines, the impact on marine organisms routinely exposed to OA is still not fully known. Few investigations available on bivalve molluscs suggest less genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of OA at high concentrations during long exposure times. In contrast, no apparent information is available on how sublethal concentrations of OA affect these organisms over short exposure times. In order to fill this gap, this study addressed for the first time in vitro analysis of early genotoxic and cytotoxic effects attributed to OA in two cell types of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Accordingly, hemocytes and gill cells were exposed to low OA concentrations (10, 50, 100, 200, or 500 nM) for short periods of time (1 or 2 h). The resulting DNA damage, as apoptosis and necrosis, was subsequently quantified using the comet assay and flow cytometry, respectively. Data demonstrated that (1) mussel hemocytes seem to display a resistance mechanism against early genotoxic and cytotoxic OA-induced effects, (2) mussel gill cells display higher sensitivity to early OA-mediated genotoxicity than hemocytes, and (3) mussel gill cells constitute more suitable systems to evaluate the genotoxic effect of low OA concentrations in short exposure studies. Taken together, this investigation provides evidence supporting the more reliable suitability of mussel gill cells compared to hemocytes to evaluate the genotoxic effect of low short-duration exposure to OA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Comet Assay
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity*
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gills / drug effects
  • Gills / pathology
  • Hemocytes / cytology
  • Hemocytes / drug effects
  • Marine Toxins / toxicity*
  • Mytilus / drug effects*
  • Necrosis / chemically induced
  • Okadaic Acid / toxicity*
  • Time Factors


  • Cytotoxins
  • Marine Toxins
  • Okadaic Acid