Toxic effects of imidazolium ionic liquids on the green seaweed Ulva lactuca: Oxidative stress and DNA damage

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Journal Article
Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2011, 24 (11), pp. 1882 - 1890
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The green credentials of ionic liquids (ILs) are being increasingly questioned due to the growing evidence of their toxicity to aquatic ecosystems, although the mechanisms of toxicity are unknown. This study provides insights into the mechanism of toxicity and biological effects of 1-alkyl-3- methylimidazolium bromide [C nmim]Br (n = 4 to 16) on the marine macroalga Ulva lactuca. The cell viability of this alga during IL exposure was found to be negatively correlated to the chain length of the alkyl group. The IL ([C 12mim]Br) exposure triggers the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS viz. O 2•-, H 2O 2, and OH •), damage of the membrane and DNA, and inhibition of antioxidant systems in the alga. The enhanced production of ROS and lipid peroxidation in the alga subjected to LC 50 concentration for 4 days was largely attributed to lipoxygenase (LOX) activity coupled with the induction of two LOX isoforms (∼80 kDa and ∼55 kDa). Pretreatment of the algal thallus with enzyme inhibitors such as diphenylene iodonium, sodium azide, cantharidin, and oxadiazoloquinoxalin-1-one, prior to [C 12mim]Br exposure showed the regulation of ROS by the activation of membrane bound NADPH-oxidase and cytochrome oxidase. The IL exposure resulted in the accumulation of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids at 0.5 LC 50 concentration indicating the induction of desaturase enzymes. Furthermore, antioxidant enzyme activities such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), and glutathione reductase (GR) were enhanced by 1.3-2.0-fold, while glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) diminished, together with a higher regeneration rate of reduced ascorbate and glutathione. The isoforms of antioxidant enzymes, namely, Mn-SOD (∼85 kDa), APX (∼125 and 45 kDa), and GR (∼135 kDa) regulated differentially to IL exposure. The comet assay performed for the first time for seaweeds revealed the significant induction of DNA damage (>50-70% increase in % tail DNA over control) in alga exposed to ≥ LC 50 concentration. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
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