The king scallop Pecten maximus
retains the amnesic shellfish poisoning toxin, domoic acid (DA), for a long time. Most of the toxin is accumulated in the digestive gland, but this organ contains several cell types whose contribution to the accumulation of the toxin is unknown. Determining the time-course of the depuration by analyzing whole organs is difficult because the inter-individual variability is high. A sampling method, using biopsies of the digestive gland, has been developed. This method allows for repetitive sampling of the same scallop, but the representativeness of the samples obtained in this way needs to be validated. In this work, we found that the distribution of DA in the digestive gland of the scallops is mostly homogeneous. Only the area closest to the gonad, and especially its outer portion, had a lower concentration than the other ones, probably due to a transfer of the toxin to the intestinal loop. Samples obtained by biopsies can therefore be considered to be representative. Most of the toxin was accumulated in large cells (mostly digestive cells), which could be due to differences during the toxin absorption or to the preferential depuration of the toxin from the small cells (mostly secretory).
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