The mortality rate of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in China is on the rise. The increasing burden of CVD in China has become a major public health problem. Cyanobacterial blooms have been recently considered a global environmental concern. Microcystins (MCs) are the secondary products of cyanobacteria metabolism and the most harmful cyanotoxin found in water bodies. Recent studies provide strong evidence of positive associations between MC exposure and cardiotoxicity, representing a threat to human cardiovascular health. This review focuses on the effects of MCs on the cardiovascular system and provides some evidence that CVD could be induced by MCs. We summarized the current knowledge of the cardiovascular toxicity of MCs, with regard to direct cardiovascular toxicity and indirect cardiovascular toxicity. Toxicity of MCs is mainly governed by the increasing level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxidative stress in mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum, the inhibition activities of serine/threonine protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) and 2A (PP2A) and the destruction of cytoskeletons, which finally induce the occurrence of CVD. To protect human health from the threat of MCs, this paper also puts forward some directions for further research.
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