The overall objective of the proposed research is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which early-life exposure to harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins may interfere with neurodevelopment to cause persistent neurobehavioral changes later in life. The HAB toxins domoic acid and saxitoxin occur in seafood and levels are regulated to prevent acute toxicity. However, human exposure to these toxins at levels below regulatory limits is common, widespread, and may be increasing, posing risks to vulnerable subpopulations such as developing humans. It is now well known that the early life environment can profoundly influence health throughout the life course (the developmental origins of health and disease). However, the mechanisms by which developmental exposures elicit effects later in life are not well understood. We are working on the hypothesis that early life, low-level exposure to domoic acid and saxitoxin targets neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels, leading to altered gene expression, functional changes in glial and neural cells, and long-term changes in neurobehavioral function in adults. This project is part of the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health (WHCOOH).