Fusaric acid induces oxidative stress and apoptosis in human cancerous oesophageal SNO cells

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Oesophageal cancer (OC) is a global problem incrementally incident among black South African males. The high incidence of OC may be due to the consumption of corn as a staple, often contaminated with mycotoxins. Fusaric acid (FA), a neglected mycotoxin, is known to disrupt mitochondrial energy metabolism, chelates divalent metal cations and induces cell death in plants. This study investigated FA-induced cytotoxicity and apoptotic induction in the SNO OC cell line. Cells were treated with FA (IC50 = 78.81 μg/mL; 24 h; MTT assay) and assayed for oxidative stress and membrane damage (TBARS, LDH cytotoxicity and glutathione), apoptotic induction (ATP levels, caspase-8, -9, -3/7 activities) (Luminometry), single strand DNA and nuclear fragmentation (Comet and Hoechst assay). Additionally, relative expression of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins were determined (Western Blotting). Significant antioxidant depletion was consistent with a concomitant increase in ROS-induced lipid peroxidation and extracellular LDH levels. FA induced apoptosis by significantly increasing Bax expression and caspase-8, -9 and -3/7 activities whilst decreasing ATP levels and Bcl-2 expression. Further, FA significantly increased comet tail lengths, PARP-1 expression and late stage apoptotic body formation in SNO cells. This study shows that FA is cytotoxic and induces increased apoptosis in SNO cells.HIGHLIGHTSFusaric acid (FA) reduced metabolic activity and cell viability in SNO cells.FA increased ROS-induced lipid peroxidation with a concomitant decrease in glutathione.FA decreased ATP levels and increased LDH leakage from SNO cells.FA induced apoptosis by increasing caspase-3/7, -8 and -9 activities and DNA damage.

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