U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in J. Appl. Toxicol. (2011) 31: 242–254; DOI 10.1002/jat.1586


Cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is a tricyclic alkaloid toxin produced by fresh water cyanobacterial species worldwide. CYN has been responsible for both livestock and human poisoning after oral exposure. This study investigated the toxicity of CYN to pregnant mice exposed during different segments of gestation. The course of recovery and individual responses to the toxin were evaluated. Adverse effects of CYN were monitored up to 7 weeks post-dosing by clinical examination, histopathology, biochemistry and gene expression. Exposure on gestational days (GD) 8–12 induced significantly more lethality than GD13–17 exposure. Periorbital, gastrointestinal and distal tail hemorrhages were seen in both groups. Serum markers indicative of hepatic injury (alanine amino transferase, aspartate amino transferase and sorbitol dehydrogenase)were increased in both groups; markers of renal dysfunction (blood urea nitrogen and creatinine) were elevated in the GD8–12 animals. Histopathology was observed in the liver (centrilobular necrosis) and kidney (interstitial inflammation) in groups exhibiting abnormal serum markers. The expression profiles of genes involved in ribosomal biogenesis, xenobiotic and lipid metabolism, inflammatory response and oxidative stress were altered 24 h after the final dose. One week after dosing, gross, histological and serum parameters had returned to normal, although increased liver/body weight ratio and one instance of gastrointestinal bleeding was found in the GD13–17 group. Gene expression changes persisted up to 2 weeks post-dosing and returned to normal by 4 weeks. Responses of individual animals to CYN exposure indicated highly significant inter-animal variability within the treated groups.