Allergenic (sensitization, skin and eye irritation) effects of freshwater cyanobacteria - Experimental evidence

Andrea Torokne, Agnes Palovics, Maria Bankine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have been published on the human health effects of cyanobacterial toxicity. As a public health concern, we have to mention that the development of contact dermatitis, asthmalike symptoms, and symptoms resembling hay fever during bathing in cyanobacterial blooms have been also described. Microcystis aeruginosa, Anabaena flos-aquae, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii are the most common species found in Hungarian freshwaters. A sensitization test on albino guinea pigs, and intradermal reactivity, and occular irritation test on albino rabbits were carried out with freeze-dried algal suspension in physiological salt solution. The sensitivity of guinea pigs is similar to that of humans. Microcystis, Anabaena, Cylindrospermopsis, and Aphanizomenon bloom and strain samples were examined in sensitization and irritation tests and no correlation was found between the toxin content and the allergenic character. The most toxic one (Microcystis aeruginosa) was not the most allergenic sample, but the nontoxic Aphanizomenon was the most allergenic one. The axenic strains were not allergenic at all. The pure microcystin LR was only slightly allergenic even in high concentration (1.5 mg/ml). Water and lipid soluble fractions were obtained by water and chloroform extraction of lyophilized algal suspensions. The chloroform fraction was bound on C18 cartridges and eluted by methanol in nine fractions. Only one of the lipid soluble fractions was skin irritative whereas the strongest irritative effect was shown by the water soluble fraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 22 2001


  • Allergenic effects
  • Anabaena
  • Aphanizomenon
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Cylindrospermopsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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