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A cytotoxic evaluation of aflatoxin B1, zearalenone and their epoxide derivatives using human cell lines.

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Since the discovery of mycotoxins in food, the thrust of biochemical and toxicological research has been carried out on animals which has proven to be uncoordinated and not easily extrapolated to humans. Over the last decade, there have been increasing pressures to review and reduce the use of animals in experimental toxicological studies. Consequently in this study aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), zearalenone (Zea) and their epoxide derivatives have been evaluated using in vitro assays. The HepG2, A549 and Hela cell lines were used for assessing the cytotoxicity, effects on cellular metabolism and sites of action of AFB1, Zea and their derivatives. The cytotoxicity of these mycotoxins was evaluated using the methylthiazol tetrazolium (MTT) reduction assay. Cells, treated with mycotoxins were prepared for transmission electron mlcroscopy (TEM), immunocytochemistry (ICC), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal and light microscopy. From the cytotoxicity assay it was found that the epoxide derivatives were more toxic than the parent toxin when exposed to HepG2 cells with no significant differences in toxicity levels in A549 and Hela treated cells. Both epoxide derivatives displayed a regression of hepatoma cell proliferation at high doses (25ug/ml) while lower concentrations (<12.5ug/ml) enhanced cell growth. Microscopy analyses showed distinct cellular alterations. When exposed to AFB1 (12.5ug/ml) hepatoma cells showed prominent ultrastructural alterations such as areas of cytoplasmic lysis and increased numbers of secondary lysosomes while cells exposed to Zea (l2.5ug/ml) displayed numerous ovoid mitochondria and proliferation of rough endoplasmic reticulum which is indicative of enhanced protein synthesis. The presence of label in toxin treated cells is suggestive of the effects of these mycotoxins. Such cellular changes may lead to altered metabolism and cell function.


Thesis (M.Med.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1996.


Mycotoxins., Aflatoxins., Human cell culture., Toxicity testing--In vitro., Theses--Human physiology.