Does in utero exposure to domoic acid cause temporal lobe epilepsy?
Paul Scott Buckmaster, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Researchers at Stanford University are working to fill a critical gap in the knowledge of long-term consequences of in utero exposure to domoic acid, which is produced by harmful algal blooms. Previous rodent studies suggest in utero exposure to domoic acid might cause neuropathological changes in the hippocampus and the development of epilepsy, but direct evidence of spontaneous seizures is lacking. As part of an interdisciplinary collaboration among wildlife veterinarians and biomedical scientists, investigators are determining whether exposure to domoic acid during pregnancy can cause temporal lobe epilepsy in laboratory mice and naturally exposed sea lions. The project is addressing the growing concerns that human embryos might be at risk when pregnant women consume seafood containing naturally occurring toxins at levels below current regulatory limits.