Microcystin - LR exposure causes cardiorespiratory impairments and tissue oxidative damage in trahira, Hoplias malabaricus

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2019 May 30;173:436-443. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2019.02.053. Epub 2019 Feb 21.


This study investigated the effect of microcystin-LR (MC-LR) on in vivo cardiorespiratory function and on tissue biomarkers of oxidative stress in gills and liver of the trahira, a neotropical freshwater fish. Trahira were treated with an intraperitoneal injection of 100 µg MC-LR.kg-1 body mass or a saline, with the toxic effects of MC-LR then evaluated after 48 h. Rates of oxygen uptake (V̇O2) did not differ significantly between Control and the exposed group (Mcys), but exposure to MC-LR significantly reduced O2 extraction in the Mcys group at all O2 tensions. This was associated with higher gill ventilation volume (V̇G) in the Mcys group at all O2 tensions except 140 and 120 mmHg, and a higher tidal volume (VT) of the Mcys group at all tensions except 140 mmHg. Heart rate was also higher in the Mcys group, significantly so at an O2 tension of 40 mmHg. In the liver of trahira, exposure to MC-LR has significant effects on antioxidant defense systems, inducing a significant increase in the activity of the (GPx) glutathione peroxidase enzyme (100%) and in the reduced glutathione (GSH) content (70%) compared to the control group, but no effects on superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. The liver showed no oxidative damage, when measured as lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels and protein carbonyl (PC) content. In the gills SOD and GPx enzyme activity increased significantly in the Mcys group (98% and 73% respectively) compared to the controls, although GSH, CAT and GST did not differ between groups. There was also no significant difference in GSH in this tissue. Levels of lipid peroxidation in the gills were 53% higher in the Mcys group, although carbonyl protein levels did not differ. In conclusion, these data show that MC-LR leads to development of hyperventilation and increased activity of the detoxification system and that this species was able to compensate the deleterious effects of microcystin on its vital functions. The antioxidant defense in the liver was able to contain the propagation of LPO and prevent the oxidation of proteins, although the gills of the fishes exposed to MC-LR were not able to contain the formation of reactive oxygen species and LPO, which led to the establishment of oxidative stress which impaired gill function.

Keywords: Antioxidant defense systems; Cardiorespiratory function; Fish; Microcystin-LR; Oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Characiformes / physiology*
  • Fish Proteins / metabolism
  • Gills / drug effects
  • Gills / physiology
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxygen / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Fish Proteins
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • cyanoginosin LR
  • Glutathione
  • Oxygen