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Using the radioligand-receptor binding assay for paralytic shellfish toxins: A case study on shellfish from Morocco

Naouli, J., Abouabdellah, R., Bennouna, A., Laissaoui, A., Swarzenski, P.W., Ait Bouh, H., Mesfioui, A., Benbrahim, M.-S., Dechraoui Bottein, M.-Y.
Journal of environmental radioactivity 2018 v.192 pp. 485-490
Cerastoderma edule, Crassostrea gigas, Perna, algal blooms, animal use alternatives, aquaculture, artisanal fishing, bioassays, calibration, case studies, coastal water, coasts, data collection, ethics, humans, inhibitory concentration 50, mice, monitoring, mussels, oysters, paralytic shellfish poisoning, paralytic shellfish toxins, phytoplankton, poisoning, quality control, radioactivity, risk, risk reduction, screening, seafood consumption, seafoods, shellfish, toxicity, Morocco
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) events occur regularly along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast of Morocco, and have been responsible for several severe cases of human intoxication. Along the southern Atlantic coast of Morocco, aquaculture and intensive artisanal fishing practices have recently been particularly heavily impacted, and toxic species have been observed in increasing intensity and frequency. In the 1990's a regulatory monitoring program was established for the coastal waters off Morocco by the National Institute of Fisheries Research (INRH), to reduce the risk of intoxication with biotoxins. The regulatory monitoring is conducted weekly and includes toxic phytoplankton enumeration and identification, as well as saxitoxin (STX) analysis in seafood using the mouse bioassay (MBA). Animal testing remains the most widely used screening method for PSP toxin detection, yet its use is being reconsidered for animal-related ethical issues, as well as for practical considerations. To be able to better evaluate alternatives to animal testing, the performance of a nuclear-based radioligand-receptor binding assay (RBA) for paralytic shellfish toxins was assessed and compared with the MBA using four commercially important shellfish matrices, including cockles Cerastoderma edule, razor shells Solen marginatus, oysters Crassostrea gigas, and mussels Perna perna.Over 50 samples were collected and analysed as part of the regulatory monitoring framework including a suite of monthly samples from 2017 and all samples identified as toxic by MBA since 2011. Testing of reference material and evaluation of assay-critical parameters (e.g. slope of calibration curve, internal quality control QC and IC50) confirmed the robustness of the RBA methodology. With this RBA method, STX-like activity detected in shellfish samples ranged from 33 to 8500 μg STX equivalents per kg. RBA data were significantly correlated (P < 0.0001, Pearson r = 0.96) with the MBA-derived dataset. Importantly, the RBA method allowed for the detection and quantification of PSP toxins at levels not detectable by using the mouse bioassay. The limits of quantification of the RBA was calculated and found to be 10-fold lower than that of the MBA, respectively 35.24 ± 5.99 and 325 μg STX equivalents per kg of tissue. In addition, the RBA was easier to use and produced reliable results more rapidly than the MBA and without use of live animals.Considering the increasing risks associated with harmful algal blooms, globally and in Morocco, together with the increased development of aquaculture production and seafood consumption and the difficulties of live animal testing, these findings indicate that the RBA method is a reliable and effective alternative to the MBA method.