Inhalation toxicity of brevetoxin 3 in rats exposed for twenty-two days

Janet M. Benson, Fletcher F. Hahn, Thomas H. March, Jacob D. McDonald, Andrea P. Gomez, Mohan J. Sopori, Andrea J. Bourdelais, Jerome Naar, Julia Zaias, Gregory D. Bossart, Daniel G. Baden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Brevetoxins are potent neurotoxins produced by the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. Exposure to brevetoxins may occur during a K. brevis red tide when the compounds become aerosolized by wind and surf. This study assessed possible adverse health effects associated with inhalation exposure to brevetoxin 3, one of the major brevetoxins produced by K. brevis and present in aerosols collected along beaches affected by red tide. Mate F344 rats were exposed to brevetoxin 3 at 0, 37, and 237 μg/m3 by nose-only inhalation 2 hr/day, 5 days/week for up to 22 exposure days. Estimated deposited brevetoxin 3 doses were 0.9 and 5.8 μg/kg/day for the low- and high-dose groups, respectively. Body weights of the high-dose group were significantly below control values. There were no clinical signs of toxicity. Terminal body weights of both low- and high-dose-group rats were significantly below control values. Minimal alveolar macrophage hyperplasia, was observed in three of six and six of six of the low- and high-dose groups, respectively. No histopathologic lesions were observed in the nose, brain, liver, or bone marrow of any group. Reticulocyte numbers in whole blood were significantly increased in the high-dose group, and mean corpuscular volume showed a significant decreasing trend with increasing exposure concentration. Humoral-mediated immunity was suppressed in brevetoxin-exposed rats as indicated by significant reduction in splenic plaque-forming cells in both low- and high-dose-group rats compared with controls. Results indicate that the immune system is the primary target for toxicity in rats after repeated inhalation exposure to relatively high concentrations of brevetoxins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-631
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Brevetoxin
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Inhalation
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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