(1/44) Possible estuary-associated syndrome.

Pfiesteria piscicida (Pp) is an estuarine dinoflagellate that has been associated with fish kill events in estuaries along the eastern seaboard and possibly with human health effects. CDC, in collaboration with other federal, state, and local government agencies and academic institutions, is conducting multistate surveillance, epidemiologic studies, and laboratory research for possible estuary-associated syndrome (PEAS), including possible Pp-related human illness.  (+info)

(2/44) Reporter gene assay for fish-killing activity produced by Pfiesteria piscicida.

Collaborative studies were performed to develop a functional assay for fish-killing activity produced by Pfiesteria piscicida. Eight cell lines were used to screen organic fractions and residual water fraction by using a 3-[4, 5-dimethylthiazol-(2-4)]-diphenyltetrazolium bromide cytotoxicity assay. Diethyl ether and a residual water fraction were cytotoxic to several cell lines including rat pituitary (GH(4)C(1)) cells. Residual water as well as preextracted culture water containing P. piscicida cells induced c-fos-luciferase expressed in GH(4)C(1) cells with a rapid time course of induction and sensitive detection. The reporter gene assay detected activity in toxic isolates of P. piscicida from several North Carolina estuaries in 1997 and 1998 and may also be suitable for detecting toxic activity in human and animal serum.  (+info)

(3/44) Heteroduplex mobility assay-guided sequence discovery: elucidation of the small subunit (18S) rDNA sequences of Pfiesteria piscicida and related dinoflagellates from complex algal culture and environmental sample DNA pools.

The newly described heterotrophic estuarine dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida has been linked with fish kills in field and laboratory settings, and with a novel clinical syndrome of impaired cognition and memory disturbance among humans after presumptive toxin exposure. As a result, there is a pressing need to better characterize the organism and these associations. Advances in Pfiesteria research have been hampered, however, by the absence of genomic sequence data. We employed a sequencing strategy directed by heteroduplex mobility assay to detect Pfiesteria piscicida 18S rDNA "signature" sequences in complex pools of DNA and used those data as the basis for determination of the complete P. piscicida 18S rDNA sequence. Specific PCR assays for P. piscicida and other estuarine heterotrophic dinoflagellates were developed, permitting their detection in algal cultures and in estuarine water samples collected during fish kill and fish lesion events. These tools should enhance efforts to characterize these organisms and their ecological relationships. Heteroduplex mobility assay-directed sequence discovery is broadly applicable, and may be adapted for the detection of genomic sequence data of other novel or nonculturable organisms in complex assemblages.  (+info)

(4/44) Surveillance for possible estuary-associated syndrome--six states, 1998-1999.

Pfiesteria piscicida (Pp) is an alga that has been associated with fish kills in estuaries (where fresh water mixes with salty seawater) along the eastern seaboard and possibly with human health effects. Since June 1, 1998, surveillance for possible estuary-associated syndrome (PEAS), including possible Pp-related human illness, has been conducted in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. This report summarizes passive surveillance for PEAS during June 1, 1998-December 31, 1999, which indicated no persons had illnesses that met PEAS criteria.  (+info)

(5/44) Development of real-time PCR assays for rapid detection of Pfiesteria piscicida and related dinoflagellates.

Pfiesteria complex species are heterotrophic and mixotrophic dinoflagellates that have been recognized as harmful algal bloom species associated with adverse fish and human health effects along the East Coast of North America, particularly in its largest (Chesapeake Bay in Maryland) and second largest (Albermarle-Pamlico Sound in North Carolina) estuaries. In response to impacts on human health and the economy, monitoring programs to detect the organism have been implemented in affected areas. However, until recently, specific identification of the two toxic species known thus far, Pfiesteria piscicida and P. shumwayae (sp. nov.), required scanning electron microscopy (SEM). SEM is a labor-intensive process in which a small number of cells can be analyzed, posing limitations when the method is applied to environmental estuarine water samples. To overcome these problems, we developed a real-time PCR-based assay that permits rapid and specific identification of these organisms in culture and heterogeneous environmental water samples. Various factors likely to be encountered when assessing environmental samples were addressed, and assay specificity was validated through screening of a comprehensive panel of cultures, including the two recognized Pfiesteria species, morphologically similar species, and a wide range of other estuarine dinoflagellates. Assay sensitivity and sample stability were established for both unpreserved and fixative (acidic Lugol's solution)-preserved samples. The effects of background DNA on organism detection and enumeration were also explored, and based on these results, we conclude that the assay may be utilized to derive quantitative data. This real-time PCR-based method will be useful for many other applications, including adaptation for field-based technology.  (+info)

(6/44) Skin ulcers in fish: Pfiesteria and other etiologies.

Skin ulcers on fish are one of the most well-recognized indicators of polluted or otherwise stressed aquatic environments. In recent years, skin ulcer epidemics have been either experimentally or epidemiologically linked to exposure to a number of xenobiotic chemicals as well as to biotoxins. Some of these agents, such as toxins produced by the dinoflagellate alga Pfiesteria, have led to serious concerns about the health of aquatic ecosystems, such as estuaries along the east coast of the United States. However, a number of other risk factors besides Pfiesteria have been shown to damage epithelium and may also play important roles in skin ulcer pathogenesis. In addition, increasing evidence indicates that not only may skin damage occur via direct contact with toxins, but it may also be induced indirectly from physiological changes that result from exposure not only to toxins but also to other environmental stressors, such as pH and temperature extremes. The multifactorial pathways that operate at both the ecological and the organismal levels as well as the nonspecific response of the skin to insults make it very challenging to link epidemic skin ulcers to any single cause in natural aquatic populations. Consequently, using pathology to unequivocally identify the specific cause of a lesion (eg. Pfiesteria exposure) is not a valid approach. Only with an increased understanding of the basic mechanisms leading to skin damage (including development of specific biomarkers for specific toxins), along with a better understanding of ecological processes operating in these environments, will we be able to discern the relative importance of various risk factors in skin ulcer development.  (+info)

(7/44) Estuary-associated syndrome in North Carolina: an occupational prevalence study.

Atlantic coast estuaries recently have experienced fish kills and fish with lesions attributed to Pfiesteria piscicida and related dinoflagellates. Human health effects have been reported from laboratory exposure and from a 1997 Maryland fish kill. North Carolina has recorded Pfiesteria-related fish kill events over the past decade, but human health effects from environmental exposure have not been systematically investigated or documented here. At the request of the state health agency, comprehensive examinations were conducted in a cross-sectional prevalence study of watermen working where Pfiesteria exposure may occur: waters where diseased or stressed fish were reported from June to September 1997, and where Pfiesteria had been identified in the past. Controls worked on unaffected waterways. The study was conducted 3 months after the last documented Pfiesteria-related fish kill. The goal was to document any persistent health effects from recent or remote contact with fish kills, fish with lesions, or affected waterways, using the 1997 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention case description for estuary-associated syndrome (EAS). Examinations included comprehensive medical, occupational, and environmental history, general medical, dermatologic, and neurologic examinations, vision testing, and neuropsychologic evaluations. Seventeen of 22 watermen working in affected waters and 11 of 21 in unaffected waters reported exposure to a fish kill or to fish with lesions. We found no pattern of abnormalities on medical, neurologic, neuropsychologic, or NES-2 evaluation. By history, one subject in each group met the EAS criteria, neither of whom had significant neuropsychological impairment when examined. Watermen from affected waterways had a significant reduction in visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) at the midspatial frequencies, but we did not identify a specific factor or exposure associated with this reduction. The cohorts did not differ in reported occupational exposure to solvents (qualitative) or to other neurotoxicants; however, exposure history was not sufficiently detailed to measure or control for solvent exposure. This small prevalence study in watermen, conducted 3 months after the last documented fish kill related to Pfiesteria, did not identify an increased risk of estuary-associated syndrome in those working on affected waterways. A significant difference between the estuary and ocean watermen was found on VCS, which could not be attributed to any specific factor or exposure. VCS may be affected by chemicals, drugs, alcohol, and several developmental and degenerative conditions; it has not been validated as being affected by known exposure to dinoflagellate secretions. VCS should be considered for inclusion in further studies, together with documentation or quantification of its potential confounders, to assess whether it has utility in relationship to dinoflagellate exposure.  (+info)

(8/44) Identification of a P2X7 receptor in GH(4)C(1) rat pituitary cells: a potential target for a bioactive substance produced by Pfiesteria piscicida.

We examined the pharmacologic activity of a putative toxin (pPfTx) produced by Pfiesteria piscicida by characterizing the signaling pathways that induce the c-fos luciferase construct in GH(4)C(1) rat pituitary cells. Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) was determined to increase and, at higher concentrations, decrease luciferase activity in GH(4)C(1) rat pituitary cells that stably express c-fos luciferase. The inhibition of luciferase results from cytotoxicity, characteristic of the putative P. piscicida toxin (pPfTx). The actions of both pPfTx and ATP to induce c-fos luciferase were inhibited by the purinogenic receptor antagonist pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulfonic acid (PPADS). Further characterization of a P2X receptor on the GH(4)C(1) cell was determined by the analog selectivity of P2X agonists. The P2X1/P2X3 agonist alpha,beta-methylene ATP (alpha,beta-MeATP) failed to increase or decrease c-fos luciferase. However, the P2X7 agonist 2',3'-(4-benzoyl)benzoyl ATP (BzATP), which had a predominant cytotoxic effect, was more potent than ATP. Immunoblot analysis of GH(4)C(1) cell membranes confirmed the presence of a 70-kDa protein that was immunoreactive to an antibody directed against the carboxy-terminal domain unique to the P2X7 receptor. The P2X7 irreversible antagonist oxidized-ATP (oxATP) inhibited the action of ATP, BzATP, and pPfTx. These findings indicate that GH(4)C(1) cells express purinogenic receptors with selectivity consistent with the P2X7 subtype and that this receptor pathway mediates the induction of the c-fos luciferase reporter gene by ATP and the putative Pfiesteria toxin  (+info)