Domoic Acid in Fetal Fluids of California Sea Lions
- Domoic acid
Domoic acid (DA) is a neuroexcitotoxic amino acid that is naturally produced by some species of marine diatoms during harmful algal blooms (HABs). The toxin is transferred through the food web from plantivorous fish and shellfish to marine mammals resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Due to the timing and location of DA producing HABs, it is well documented that pregnant female California sea lions (CSL) are regularly exposed to DA through their diet thereby posing exposure risks to a neuroteratogen in developing fetuses. In the present study, fluids from 36 fetuses sampled from naturally exposed pregnant CSLs were examined for DA. Domoic acid was detected in 79% of amniotic fluid (n = 24), 67% of allantoic fluid (n = 9), 75% of urine (n = 4), 41% of meconium (n = 17) and 29% of stomach content (n = 21) samples opportunistically collected from CSL fetuses. The distribution of DA in fetal samples indicates an increased prenatal exposure risk due to recirculation of DA in fetal fluids and continuous exposure to the developing brain.
Lefebvre, K.A., Hendrix, A., Halaska, B., Duignan, P., Shum, S., Isoherranen, N., Marcinek, D.J. and Gulland, F.M., 2018. Domoic acid in California sea lion fetal fluids indicates continuous exposure to a neuroteratogen poses risks to mammals. Harmful Algae 79:53-57.