Linking genotoxic responses with cytotoxic and behavioural or physiological consequences: differential sensitivity of echinoderms (Asterias rubens) and marine molluscs (Mytilus edulis).Aquat Toxicol. 2009 Aug 13; 94(1):68-76.AT
Integrated laboratory studies addressed multiple biomarker responses in the sea star (Asterias rubens) and the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) exposed to a range of concentrations of direct and indirect acting genotoxins: methyl methane sulfonate (MMS) and cyclophosphamide (CP; an environmentally relevant anti-cancer pharmaceutical), respectively, in order to determine if the expressed genotoxicity has knock-on effects at the higher levels of biological organisation. The experimental design aimed to concurrently evaluate biomarkers of behavioural and physiological conditions (i.e. 'righting time' and 'clearance rate' for sea stars and mussels, respectively) in addition to cytotoxicity (neutral red retention assay), induction of micronuclei (Mn) and DNA strand breaks (as determined by the Comet assay). The protocol also included the determination of the maximum tolerated concentration (MTC), prior to genotoxic evaluation. The 3d MTC, as determined by the survival of the organisms, showed sea stars to be more sensitive than mussels to MMS (18 and 32 mg L(-1), respectively) and CP (56 and 180 mg L(-1), respectively). For both species and chemicals, cytotoxicity was not found to be significantly different compared to controls. Apart from the MMS exposure to sea stars (which showed 100% mortality at higher concentrations after 5d exposure), clear dose-response relationships were observed for both genotoxicity endpoints in each species. Following exposure to CP, good correlations were also found between the behavioural and physiological responses and genetic damage in each species (sea stars-MN vs. RT: R=0.73; Comet vs. RT: R=0.91; mussels-MN vs. CR: R=0.69; Comet vs. CR: R=0.72). This integrated approach, applying non-invasive assays to simultaneously determine the responses at different levels of biological organisation, indicates the potential value of behavioural and physiological measures in determining the toxicity of chemicals to marine organisms and highlights also the relevance of including adult echinoderms in environmental studies.