Study of the allergenic potential ofBacillus thuringiensisCry1Ac toxin following intra-gastric administration in a murine model of food-allergy

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Abstract

Cry1Ac toxin, from Bacillus thuringiensis, is widely used as a biopesticide and expressed in genetically modified (GM) plants used for human and animal consumption. Since Cry1Ac is also immunogenic and able to activate macrophages, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate the immunological effects elicited after intra-gastric administration. The allergenic potential of purified Cry1Ac was assessed and compared with that induced in a murine model of food-allergy to ovalbumin (OVA), in which animals are sensitized with the adjuvant Cholera toxin (CT). Mice were weekly intragastrically administered with: i) vehicle phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), ii) OVA, iii) OVA plus CT iv) Cry1Ac or v) OVA plus Cry1Ac. Seven weeks after, mice were intragastrically challenged and allergic reactions along with diverse allergy related immunological parameters were evaluated at systemic and intestinal level. The groups immunized with, Cry1Ac, OVA/Cry1Ac or OVA/CT developed moderate allergic reactions, induced significant IgE response and increased frequencies of intestinal granulocytes, IgE+ eosinophils and IgE+ lymphocytes. These same groups also showed colonic lymphoid hyperplasia, notably in humans, this has been associated with food allergy and intestinal inflammation. Although the adjuvant and allergenic potential of CT were higher than the effects of Cry1Ac, the results show that applied intra-gastrically at 50 μg doses, Cry1Ac is immunogenic, moderately allergenic and able to provoke intestinal lymphoid hyperplasia. Moreover, Cry1Ac is also able to induce anaphylaxis, since when mice were intragastrically sensitized with increasing doses of Cry1Ac, with every dose tested, a significant drop in rectal temperature was recorded after intravenous challenge.

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