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Avoiding Adverse Health Effects of Cyanobacterial Toxins: Development of Rapid Methods for Microcystin-detection in Water Supplies and Food Sources


Foreseen Results

The ultimate goal is to export existing know-how regarding these toxins to the partners from collaborating NIS-countries, where this problem has been insufficiently addressed. Therefore, following establishment of the new analysis methods developed within this consortium, preliminary attempts will be made to determine how prevalent these toxins are in some selected drinking water sources and other water bodies in these countries, as well as in fish from contaminated lakes. During these studies the new methods will be compared to traditional chromatographical analysis methods. The project also includes a whole array of studies aimed at enhancing current knowledge on the chemistry, enzymology, toxicology, immunochemistry, environmental pollution and epidemiology of microcystins and nodularins. The proposal will include a program for quality control and technological optimization of the proposed methods for fastest possible introduction and implementation in the public domain. It should be noticed that (A) the proposal complies with research area 10.2 within the Inco-Copernicus programme, (B) the benefits from the cooperation between the involved EU- and NlS-countries are obvious, and (C) there is a clear European dimension in the proposal creating a synergetic effect which would not be achieved without the proposed cooperation.
Microcystins and related compounds are extremely potent hepatotoxins from ubiquitously present blue-green algae or cyanobacteria. In the past decades, toxic cyanobacterial blooms have become more frequent, most likely due to eutrophication, pollution, and intense use of freshwater from lakes and reservoirs in industrialized and rural countries. These peptide toxins are highly stable and cannot be removed by conventional water purification systems. Microcystins (MCs) and nodularins represent both chronic and acute liver-directed environmental toxins that have often been implicated as causes for kills of wildlife and domestic animals, as well as associated with acute liver insufficience (jaundice and increase enzyme values) in humans following consumption of contaminated drinking-water from lakes and reservoirs. MCs act by irreversible inhibition of serine/threonine-specific protein phosphatase, which induces a cascade of events that can either lead to acute toxic liver damage or tumor promotion. Chronic exposure of humans and animals to subacute doses of MCs occurs often without recognition of the hazard, as there are no versatile and effective test and detection systems that are widely available. The current proposal is aimed at developing rapid, reliable and inexpensive but, however, advanced and specific assay methods for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the existing forms of MCs and nodularins. The goal is to obtain fast detection and quantification of MC-levels in water, algal or food samples, without using laboratory animal assays or complex analytical methods requiring expensive instrumental setups. As indicated earlier, MCs have the capacity for bioaccumulation in aquatic food chains. Thus, by using the toxicological tools developed within the research consortium, one of the goals is estimate to what extent MCs occur in aquatic food sources, especially fish.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Aabo Akademi University

20521 Turku

Participants (4)

M P "Niero"
69A,r. Luxemburg Street 69A
220039 Minsk
N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Centre -Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
241,Kashirskoe Sh. 241
115478 Moscow
Research Centre for the Testing of Drinking Water
40,Novatorov Street 40
117471 Moscow
Universität Konstanz
25,Jacob-burckhardt-straße 25
78434 Konstanz