Although the irritant effects of quaternium-15 have been established, little is known about the toxicological consequences induced by this xenobiotic on aquatic invertebrates. The present article reports toxicological, histological and physiological effects of quaternium-15 following the exposure of Mytilus galloprovincialis for 18 days at three different concentrations (0.1, 1.0 and 2.0 mg/L). The results demonstrate that at higher concentrations histological damages to M. galloprovincialis gills occur, like melanosis, light exfoliations, increase of mucus production and infiltrative inflammation. In addition digestive gland cells of M. galloprovincialis, were not able to perform the regulation volume decrease (RVD) owing to osmotic stress following the exposure to the preservative. Overall, this first study on quaternium-15 highlights that it can jeopardize both the morphology and vital physiological processes in marine invertebrates, depending on the duration of exposure and the concentration of the preservative, indicating that further studies are necessary to increase our knowledge about the effects of this substance, commonly added to our products of daily use.
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