Detection of sodium channel activators by a rapid fluorimetric microplate assay.Chem Res Toxicol. 2004 Apr; 17(4):572-8.CR
Marine toxins such as brevetoxins and ciguatoxins are produced by dinoflagellates and can accumulate in seafood. These toxins affect humans through seafood consumption. Intoxication is mainly characterized by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders and, in most severe cases, by cardiovascular problems. To prevent the consumption of food contaminated with these toxins, shellfish have been tested by mouse bioassay. However, this method is expensive, time-consuming, and ethically questionable. The objective of this study was to use a recently developed fluorimetric microplate assay to rapidly detect brevetoxins and ciguatoxins. The method is based on the pharmacological effect of brevetoxins and ciguatoxins known to activate sodium channels and involves (i). the incubation of excitable cells in 96 well microtiter plates with the fluorescent dye bis-oxonol, whose distribution across the membrane is potential-dependent, and (ii). dose-dependent cell depolarization by the toxins. Our findings demonstrate that measuring changes in membrane potential induced by brevetoxins and ciguatoxins allowed their quantitation. Active toxins could be reliably detected at concentrations in the nanomolar range. The simplicity, sensitivity, and possibility of being automated provide the basis for development of a practical alternative to conventional testing for brevetoxins and ciguatoxins.