Environmental toxins produced by cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates have increasingly become a public health concern due to their ability to damage several tissues in humans. In particular, emerging evidence has called attention to the neurodegenerative effects of the cyanobacterial toxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Furthermore, other toxins such as anatoxin, saxitoxin, microcystin, nodularin and ciguatoxin also have a different range of effects on human tissues, including hepatotoxicity, neurotoxicity and gastrointestinal irritation. However, the vast majority of known environmental toxins have not yet been examined in the context of neurodegenerative disease. This review aims to investigate whether neurotoxic mechanisms can be demonstrated in all aforementioned toxins, and whether there exists a link to neurodegeneration. Management of toxin exposure and potential neuroprotective compounds is also discussed. Collectively, all aforementioned microbial toxins are likely to exert some form of neuronal damage, with many of their modes of action consistent with neurodegeneration. This is important in advancing our current understanding of the cytotoxic potential of environmental toxins upon human brain function, particularly in the context of age-related neurodegenerative disease.
- Cyanobacterial toxins