According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Toledo, United States, people who have a history of liver disease are more prone to problems that can cause toxic algae. Microbes present in toxic algae during flowering can produce a class of toxins called microcystins.
The latter can influence, more strongly than previously thought according to the researchers behind this study, people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). According to the press release presenting the research published in the journal Toxins, this toxin may, in fact, increase the effects of this disease even when it is present at low levels.
According to David Kennedy, professor of medicine at the American university and lead author of the study, this research suggests “that there are some groups of people who need to pay more attention and may be more sensitive to microcystin toxins. We may need to explore special preventive guidelines for those people in terms of how much microcystine they are exposed through drinking water or other means.”
The researchers carried out experiments on mice testing the effects of microcysstin-LR (MC-LR) on healthy mice. The latter were exposed to microcystin every 48 hours for four weeks; researchers noted early mortality and significant increases in alkaline phosphatase levels and histopathological markers of liver damage as well as overregulation of genes associated with hepatotoxicity, necrosis, nongenotoxic hepatocarcinogenicity and oxidative stress response, as reported in the study abstract (see second link below).
Some rare deaths related to the microcystin produced by toxic algae have been reported for example in a group of patients suffering from renal dialysis in Brazil while several cases of dogs dying from exposure to so-called “blue-green algae” (cyanobacteria) have been reported in different parts, especially in the United States.