Detection of the cyanotoxins L-BMAA uptake and accumulation in primary neurons and astrocytes

Vanessa X. Tan, Claire Mazzocco, Bianca Varney, Dominique Bodet, Tristan A. Guillemin, Alban Bessede, Gilles J. Guillemin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


We show for the first time that a newly developed polyclonal antibody (pAb) can specifically target the cyanotoxin β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and can be used to enable direct visualization of BMAA entry and accumulation in primary brain cells. We used this pAb to investigate the effect of acute and chronic accumulation, and toxicity of both BMAA and its natural isomer 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (DAB), separately or in combination, on primary cultures of rat neurons. We further present evidence that co-treatment with BMAA and DAB increased neuronal death, as measured by MAP2 fluorescence level, and appeared to reduce BMAA accumulation. DAB is likely to be acting synergistically with BMAA resulting in higher level of cellular toxicity. We also found that glial cells such as microglia and astrocytes are also able to directly uptake BMAA indicating that additional brain cell types are affected by BMAA-induced toxicity. Therefore, BMAA clearly acts at multiple cellular levels to possibly increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, including neuro- and gliotoxicity and synergetic exacerbation with other cyanotoxins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55–61
Number of pages7
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • BMAA
  • DAB
  • Glial cells
  • Neurotoxicity

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