Induction of Oxidative Stress Response by the Mycotoxin Patulin in Mammalian Cells

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Patulin (PAT), a mycotoxin mainly produced by Penicillium and Aspergillus, is found in various foods and feeds. In the present study, its effects on oxidative stress in various mammalian cell lines were investigated. When cell-permeating fluorescent dyes were used as indicators of the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), we found that PAT treatment directly increased intracellular oxidative stress in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) and human promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) cells. Lipid peroxidation levels were also significantly increased in HL-60 cells and mouse kidney homogenates treated with PAT. Suppression of CuZn–superoxide dismutase (SOD) expression in mammalian cells by small interfering RNA resulted in an increase in PAT-mediated membrane damage, while overexpression of human CuZn-SOD or catalase led to a reduction in damage, indicating the involvement of ROS in PAT toxicity. Pretreatment of HEK293 cells with Tiron, a free radical scavenger, reduced the phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 elicited by PAT. The ERK1/2 signaling pathway inhibitor, U0126, also significantly decreased the levels of ROS associated with PAT treatment. These findings indicate that PAT treatment results in the ROS production in mammalian cells, and ROS partially contributes to PAT-induced cytotoxicity. Activation of ERK1/2 signaling pathway is correlated with PAT-mediated ROS.

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