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Toxic and Therapeutic Effects of Yessotoxin and Domoic Acid

Desislava Boyanova, Ivan Angelov, Zlatina Peteva


Introduction: In the last decades the discovery of metabolites with biological activities from marine organisms has increased significantly. Marine toxins are naturally produced by some microalgae, accumulate in filter-feeding organisms and, through the food chain, find their way to humans causing severe illnesses. Despite the poisoning effect, some of the marine toxins, e.g. yessotoxins (YTX) and domoic acid (DA) are of medical interest due to their potential role as anti-allergic and anti-cancer compounds.

Materials and Methods: The review is based on papers published in journals with impact factor in the last five years. Crucial point in the papers selection is also the experience of the authors in the related topic. 

Results: Both domoic acid and yessotoxins can be determined as lipophilic due to their chemical structure. DA is a potent neurotoxin that acts as a glutamate antagonist. Symptoms of oral exposure to higher doses are well known. Low doses elicit gastrointestinal effects that are often underestimated. Hereby, studies about the effect of repetitive low-level exposure and its contribution to chronic health consequences are summarized. Yessotoxins are very powerful compounds that cause mitochondrial alternations. However, local applications of YTX around established tumours decreases their growth in the absence of any significant toxicity, which reveals the role of YTXs as an anti-cancer drug. The use of YTXs in the treatment of allergic and asthmatic processes is also discussed.

Conclusion: Although both domoic acid and yessotoxins have a poisonous effect, low doses of exposure have a different cellular impact. Domoic acid intoxication, even asymptomatically, has a chronic impact. On the other hand, yessotoxins in low concentrations could be used for treating different diseases. 


marine biotoxins, domoic acid, yessotoxin, intoxication, anti-cancer drug


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