• Discovery of a Potential Human Serum Biomarker for Chronic Seafood Toxin Exposure Using an SPR Biosensor

      Lefebvre, K.A.; Yakes, B.J.; Frame, E. (MDPI, 2019)
      Domoic acid (DA)-producing harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been present at unprecedented geographic extent and duration in recent years causing an increase in contamination of seafood by this common environmental neurotoxin. The toxin is responsible for the neurotoxic illness, amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), that is characterized by gastro-intestinal distress, seizures, memory loss, and death. Established seafood safety regulatory limits of 20 μg DA/g shellfish have been relatively successful at protecting human seafood consumers from short-term high-level exposures and episodes of acute ASP. Significant concerns, however, remain regarding the potential impact of repetitive low-level or chronic DA exposure for which there are no protections. Here, we report the novel discovery of a DA-specific antibody in the serum of chronically-exposed tribal shellfish harvesters from a region where DA is commonly detected at low levels in razor clams year-round. The toxin was also detected in tribal shellfish consumers' urine samples confirming systemic DA exposure via consumption of legally-harvested razor clams. The presence of a DA-specific antibody in the serum of human shellfish consumers confirms long-term chronic DA exposure and may be useful as a diagnostic biomarker in a clinical setting. Adverse effects of chronic low-level DA exposure have been previously documented in laboratory animal studies and tribal razor clam consumers, underscoring the potential clinical impact of such a diagnostic biomarker for protecting human health. The discovery of this type of antibody response to chronic DA exposure has broader implications for other environmental neurotoxins of concern.