Biological Effects of the Azaspiracid-Producing Dinoflagellate Azadinium dexteroporum in Mytilus galloprovincialis from the Mediterranean Sea

Mar Drugs. 2019 Oct 22;17(10):595. doi: 10.3390/md17100595.


Azaspiracids (AZAs) are marine biotoxins including a variety of analogues. Recently, novel AZAs produced by the Mediterranean dinoflagellate Azadinium dexteroporum were discovered (AZA-54, AZA-55, 3-epi-AZA-7, AZA-56, AZA-57 and AZA-58) and their biological effects have not been investigated yet. This study aimed to identify the biological responses (biomarkers) induced in mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis after the bioaccumulation of AZAs from A. dexteroporum. Organisms were fed with A. dexteroporum for 21 days and subsequently subjected to a recovery period (normal diet) of 21 days. Exposed organisms accumulated AZA-54, 3-epi-AZA-7 and AZA-55, predominantly in the digestive gland. Mussels' haemocytes showed inhibition of phagocytosis activity, modulation of the composition of haemocytic subpopulation and damage to lysosomal membranes; the digestive tissue displayed thinned tubule walls, consumption of storage lipids and accumulation of lipofuscin. Slight genotoxic damage was also observed. No clear occurrence of oxidative stress and alteration of nervous activity was detected in AZA-accumulating mussels. Most of the altered parameters returned to control levels after the recovery phase. The toxic effects detected in M. galloprovincialis demonstrate a clear biological impact of the AZAs produced by A. dexteroporum, and could be used as early indicators of contamination associated with the ingestion of seafood.

Keywords: Azadinium dexteroporum; azaspiracids; biomarkers; biotoxins; genotoxicity; immune responses; mussels; storage lipids.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dinoflagellida / metabolism*
  • Foodborne Diseases / etiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Hemocytes / drug effects
  • Marine Toxins / biosynthesis
  • Marine Toxins / toxicity*
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Mutagenesis / drug effects
  • Mytilus / drug effects*
  • Mytilus / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Seafood / toxicity*
  • Spiro Compounds / toxicity*


  • Marine Toxins
  • Spiro Compounds
  • azaspiracid