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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 949521, 9 pages
Research Article

Genotoxicity of Microcystin-LR in In Vitro and In Vivo Experimental Models

1Department of Environmental Health, National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Avenida Padre Cruz, 1649-016 Lisbon, Portugal
2Department of Human Genetics, National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Avenida Padre Cruz, 1649-016 Lisbon, Portugal

Received 28 February 2014; Accepted 30 April 2014; Published 18 May 2014

Academic Editor: Davor Zeljezic

Copyright © 2014 Elsa Dias et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Microcystin-LR (MCLR) is a cyanobacterial toxin known for its acute hepatotoxicity. Despite being recognized as tumour promoter, its genotoxicity is far from being completely clarified, particularly in organs other than liver. In this work, we used the comet and/or the micronucleus (MN) assays to study the genotoxicity of MCLR in kidney- (Vero-E6) and liver-derived (HepG2) cell lines and in blood cells from MCLR-exposed mice. MCLR treatment (5 and 20  M) caused a significant induction in the MN frequency in both cell lines and, interestingly, a similar positive effect was observed in mouse reticulocytes (37.5  g MCLR/kg, i.p. route). Moreover, the FISH-based analysis of the MN content (HepG2 cells) suggested that MCLR induces both chromosome breaks and loss. On the other hand, the comet assay results were negative in Vero-E6 cells and in mouse leukocytes, with the exception of a transient increase in the level of DNA damage 30 minutes after mice exposure. Overall, the present findings contributed to increase the weight of evidence in favour of MCLR genotoxicity, based on its capacity to induce permanent genetic damage either in vitro or in vivo. Moreover, they suggest a clastogenic and aneugenic mode of action that might underlie a carcinogenic effect.