Selected species of cyanobacteria and green algae have been reported to produce lipophilic polymethoxy-1-alkenes (PMAs) which were shown to exhibit in vivo teratogenicity. Considering that information on PMAs in Arthospira sp. (known commercially as Spirulina) and Chlorella sp. cultivated for food supplement production was essentially lacking, the present study screened Chlorella (n = 10) and Spirulina (n = 13) food supplements registered in the European Union. Mass spectrometry analysis of column fractionated extracts was performed. None of the four variants previously reported in some cyanobacteria and green algae, nor any potentially related structures were detected in the studied samples. Since the isolated lipophilic fractions contained various compounds, they were further screened for in vivo teratogenicity in Danio rerio embryo, and for the potential to induce oxidative stress and genotoxicity in the liver and neurotoxicity in the brain of adult zebrafish. None of the tested food supplements had detectable levels of PMAs or any potentially related structures. No teratogenicity was revealed except for spinal curvature induced by fractions obtained from two Chlorella products. Selected fractions revealed cytotoxicity as indicated by an increased level of reactive oxygen species, catalase activity, lipid peroxidation and increased frequency of DNA strand breaks in hepatic tissue. The majority (60%) of Chlorella fractions induced an increase in cholinesterase activity in zebrafish brain homogenate while exposure to 61.5% of Spirulina fractions was associated with its decrease. The present study confirms that Chlorella and Spirulina food supplements are free of teratogenic PMAs, although the observed in vivo toxicities raise questions regarding the quality of selected products.
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