Human neuronal cell based assay: A new in vitro model for toxicity evaluation of ciguatoxin

Teresa Coccini, Francesca Caloni, Uliana De Simone

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Ciguatoxins (CTXs) are emerging marine neurotoxins representing the main cause of ciguatera fish poisoning, an intoxication syndrome which configures a health emergency and constitutes an evolving issue constantly changing due to new vectors and derivatives of CTXs, as well as their presence in new non-endemic areas. The study applied the neuroblastoma cell model of human origin (SH-SY5Y) to evaluate species-specific mechanistic information on CTX toxicity. Metabolic functionality, cell morphology, cytosolic Ca(2+)i responses, neuronal cell growth and proliferation were assessed after short- (4-24h) and long-term exposure (10days) to P-CTX-3C. In SH-SY5Y, P-CTX-3C displayed a powerful cytotoxicity requiring the presence of both Veratridine and Ouabain. SH-SY5Y were very sensitive to Ouabain: 10 and 0.25nM appeared the optimal concentrations, for short- and long-term toxicity studies, respectively, to be used in co-incubation with Veratridine (25μM), simulating the physiological and pathological endogenous Ouabain levels in humans. P-CTX-3C cytotoxic effect, on human neurons co-incubated with OV (Ouabain+Veratridine) mix, was expressed starting from 100pM after short- and 25pM after long-term exposure. Notably, P-CTX-3C alone at 25nM induced cytotoxicity after 24h and prolonged exposure. This human brain-derived cell line appears a suitable cell-based-model to evaluate cytotoxicity of CTX present in marine food contaminated at low toxic levels and to characterize the toxicological profile of other/new congeners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-213
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Journal Article


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