Domoic acid (DA) is produced by the metabolism of certain species of diatoms in the genus Pseudo-nitzschia and Nitzschia. When these algae multiply and form red tides, a large amount of domoic acid will be produced in the initial stage after the formation of red tides, which will pollute the seawater environment. DA accumulates through the food chain. Humans can cause poisoning after eating seafood contaminated by DA. Domoic acid was found in shellfish samples from North America, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, and other regions. Hazardous incidents caused by domoic acid on the coasts of Canada and the United States have been continuously reported.
Fig. 1 The chemical structure of domoic acid
The structure of domoic acid is similar to that of kainic acid and glutamic acid, and it is an agonist of kainate receptors. The pure product is a white solid powder, soluble in water, and will not degrade in alkaline solutions at room temperature or light. Domoic acid and glutamic acid (Glu) as a neurotransmitter have the same function of causing nerve cell excitement, but its strength is more than 100 times higher than Glu and 2-3 times higher than kainic acid (KA). DA can enter the brain through the high-affinity transport system of the blood-brain barrier. After poisoning, the human body will experience nausea, vomiting, and gastritis. In severe cases, it can cause dizziness, visual disturbance, memory loss, and coma. DA has been recognized since the Canadian poisoning incident in 1987, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified it as one of the four major marine biological toxins. Before and after the occurrence of red tides and blooms, the detection of domoic acid should be strengthened. Given that ELISA is sensitive, specific, and does not require special equipment, it has been widely used in the detection of domoic acid.
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