Subacute immunotoxicity of the marine phycotoxin yessotoxin in rats

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Yessotoxin (YTX) is a marine phycotoxin produced by dinoflagellates and accumulated in filter feeding shellfish. YTX content in shellfish is regulated by many food safety authorities to protect human health, although currently no human intoxication episodes have been unequivocally related to YTX presence in food. The immune system has been proposed as one of the target organs of YTX due to alterations of lymphoid tissues and cellular and humoral components. The aim of the present study was to explore subacute immunotoxicity of YTX in rats by evaluating the haematological response, inflammatory cytokine biomarkers and the presence of YTX-induced structural alterations in the spleen and thymus. The results showed that repeated administrations of YTX caused a decrease of lymphocyte percentage and an increase of neutrophil counts, a reduction in interleukine-6 (IL-6) plasmatic levels and histopathological splenic alterations in rats after four intraperitoneal injections of YTX at doses of 50 or 70 μg/kg that were administered every 4 days along a period of 15 days. Therefore, for the first time, subacute YTX-immunotoxicity is reported in rats, suggesting that repeated exposures to low amounts of YTX might also suppose a threat to human health, especially in immuno-compromised populations.Graphical abstractHighlightsYessotoxin subacute administration increased neutrophils in blood and spleen.Toxicity to the immune system reflected also by decreased IL-6 plasmatic levels.Repeated exposure to yessotoxin caused apoptosis in rat spleen.

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