How the neurotoxin β-N-Methylamino-L-Alanine accumulates in bivalves: distribution of the different accumulation fractions among organs

Lepoutre, Alexandra; Faassen, E.J.; Zweers, A.J.; Lurling, M.F.L.L.W.; Geffard, Alain; Lance, E.


The environmental neurotoxin β-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) may represent a risk for human health. BMAA accumulates in freshwater and marine organisms consumed by humans. However, few data are available about the kinetics of BMAA accumulation and detoxification in exposed organisms, as well as the organ distribution and the fractions in which BMAA is present in tissues (free, soluble bound or precipitated bound cellular fractions). Here, we exposed the bivalve mussel Dreissena polymorpha to 7.5 µg of dissolved BMAA/mussel/3 days for 21 days, followed by 21 days of depuration in clear water. At 1, 3, 8, 14 and 21 days of exposure and depuration, the hemolymph and organs (digestive gland, the gills, the mantle, the gonad and muscles/foot) were sampled. Total BMAA as well as free BMAA, soluble bound and precipitated bound BMAA were quantified by tandem mass spectrometry. Free and soluble bound BMAA spread throughout all tissues from the first day of exposure to the last day of depuration, without a specific target organ. However, precipitated bound BMAA was detected only in muscles and foot from the last day of exposure to day 8 of depuration, at a lower concentration compared to free and soluble bound BMAA. In soft tissues (digestive gland, gonad, gills, mantle and muscles/foot), BMAA mostly accumulated as a free molecule and in the soluble bound fraction, with variations occurring between the two fractions among tissues and over time. The results suggest that the assessment of bivalve contamination by BMAA may require the quantification of total BMAA in whole individuals when possible.