Toxicity of Microcystin LR, a Cyclic Heptapeptide Hepatotoxin from Microcystis aeruginosa, to Rats and Mice

S. B. Hooser, V. R. Beasley, R. A. Lovell, W. W. Carmichael, W. M. Haschek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rats (Sprague-Dawley) and mice (Balb/c) were given microcystin LR intraperitoneally and were killed at intervals up to 24 hr (rats) or 90 min (mice) and necropsied. The lowest consistently lethal dose was 160 μg/kg in rats and 100 μg/kg in mice. Rats that were clinically unaffected had no lesion. All clinically affected rats in all dose groups died (from 20 to 32 hr after toxin) and had similar hepatic lesions. Livers were enlarged and dark red beginning 40 to 60 min after toxin. Mild disassociation and rounding of centrilobular hepatocytes developed within 20 min. By 60 min after toxin, degeneration and necrosis of hepatocytes involved most of the lobules except for small per portal zones. Weights of livers and kidneys were significantly increased. Eosinophilic fibrillar material filled renal glomerular capillaries as early as 9 hr after toxin. At 18 to 24 hr there was moderate vacuolation of proximal tubular epithelium with mild tubular dilatation. Beginning at 1 hr, intact hepatocytes and hepatic debris were present in pulmonary vessels. Analysis of serum revealed an increase in alanine aminotransferase 40 min after toxin; at 6 to 12 hr there were significant increases in alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. Mice survived only 60 to 90 min after toxin. Hepatic lesions were similar to those in rats, but renal and pulmonary lesions were not seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-252
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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