The possible implication of selected Fusarium Mycotoxins in the aetiology of brain cancer.
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The central nervous system is a potential site of action for the Fusarium mycotoxin Fumonisin B1 (FB1), and is exemplified in horses by the disease equine leukoencephalomalacia. Structurally resembling sphingoid bases, FB1 inhibits ceramide synthase, an enzyme involved in sphingolipid metabolism, leading to accumulation of free sphinganine (Sa) and sphingosine (So). This investigation focused on FB1, Sa, So and the Fusarium mycotoxins fusaric acid (FA), moniliformin (MaN), zearalenone (ZEA), deoxynivalenol (DON), and T-2 toxin (T2). Effects of the Fusarium mycotoxins and sphingoid bases on the N2a neuroblastoma cell line were assessed using the methylthiazol tetrazolium (MIT) and ApoGlow™ assays. The MIT assay revealed significant differences between the viability of N28 control cells and the cytotoxic effects of FB1 (p=0.001), So (p=1.1 x10-6 ), Sa (p=1.9x10-6 ), MON (p=0.002), DON (p=0.04) and ZEA (p=0.003) on N28 cells between 5-250µM. The cytotoxic effects of FA did not differ significantly from controls (p=0.1). The ApoGlow™ assay revealed that in N28 cells, FB1 at 8µg.ml-1, FA at 128µg.ml-1, and (FBI+FA) combined induced growth arrest at 2 and 4µg·ml-1. Assessment of the effects of FBI and FA on the Jurkat leukaemic suspension cell line revealed that FB1 induced apoptosis at 1.56,12.5 and 50µ.ml-1, growth arrest at 100, 200 and 800µg.ml-1 and proliferation at 400µg.mg-1. Fusaric acid induced proliferation at 1. 56µg.ml-1, apoptosis at 3.15µg.mrl, growth arrest at 100 and 200µg.mrl, and necrosis at 800µg.ml-1. Combined, (FB1+FA) induced apoptosis at 1.56, 3.15,12.5 and 800µg.ml-1. Flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy revealed that mycotoxins, Sa and So induced varying levels of apoptosis and necrosis in N28 cells. Acridine orange and ethidium bromide staining facilitated discrimination between viable, apoptotic and necrotic cells. Transition of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential was measured using Rhodamine 123 with propidium iodide, and the dual emission potential sensitive stain JC-1. Changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and plasma membrane integrity were expressed as increases or decreases in fluorescence intensity. An increase in mycotoxin concentration from 50 to 200µM was usually paralleled by a decrease in J-aggregate formation, suggesting a decrease in the ?¦¥m. Staining with Rh 123/PI indicated at specific concentrations whether N28 cells were either late apoptotic or necrotic reflected by the levels of PI uptake. No dose dependant mechanism of cell death was established using either method, as fluctuations were evident. Immunolocalisation of T2, ZEA and FB1 within cellular organelles that exhibited ultrastructural pathology provided correlation between mycotoxin exposure and effects. Multinucleate giant cells and retraction of cellular processes were observed. At the electron microscope (EM) level, FB1 was immunolocalised within microsegregated and peripherally condensed nucleoli, the nucleoplasm, distorted mitochondria and dilated endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The capacity of cells to incorporate mycotoxins and effect cytological changes represents a major factor in the potential for initiation of malignant transformation. Exposure of N2a cells to FB1 for 72 hours increased intracellular free Sa and depleted complex sphingolipids. Using High Performance Liquid chromatography (HPLC), acid hydrolysis revealed reduction in Sa from a level of O.6±0.12µM in control cells, to 02±0.lµM in cells exposed to 50µM and lOOµM FB1. Base hydrolyses revealed increase in free Sa: So ratios from 0.52±0.2 in control cells, to 1.14±0.2 and 1.4±0.3 in cells exposed to 50 and l00µM FB1 respectively. The Sa: So ratio in the complete culture media (CCM) increased from 1. 7±0. 3 for control cells to 2.0±0.2 and 2.50±0.4 for cells exposed to 50 and lOOµM FB1 respectively. Correlation coefficients between Sa: So ratios to FB1 exposure in CCM (R=0.75) and within cells (R=0.85), imply that the free Sa: So ratio within cells appears to be a better biomarker for FB1-induced disruption of sphingolipid metabolism in vitro, than the Sa: So ratio in CCM. Optimisation of HPLC analytical procedures improved recovery of FB I from spiked human sera to 95.8% (n=15) and detection limits to -5ng.ml-1 at a signal to noise ratio of 5:1. Optimisation of methods for recovery of Sa and So from spiked sera, led to recoveries of 77.9% and 85.0%, for So and Sa respectively at levels of spiking with lOng per 500µl of serum. Matched sera Sa:So ratios and FB1 levels in brain cancer and non-cancer subjects in KwaZulu-Natal were determined using these optimised methods. Fumonisin B1 was detected in sera of non-cancer (76.7±62.2nM) and brain cancer subjects (l07.38±116nM). Mean serum Sa:So ratios of 21 non-cancer subjects was 1.7±0.7. There was no correlation (R=0.26) between these variables in non-cancer subjects. The mean serum FB1 level in brain cancer subjects was 107.4±116nM (range 10.5-298nM) (n=50) and the mean Sa:So ratio (n=50) was 1.9±1.7 (range 0.40-8.16). No correlation was found between these variables in the brain cancer subjects either (R = -0.23). Fumonisin B1 was irnmunolocalised in 49 of 76 brain tumour tissue samples analysed using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Thirty-eight of the 76 specimens had matched serum FBI levels and Sa: So ratios, and 23 of these were positive for FB1 presence. Although not significantly different (p=0.ll), the FBI sera levels in the cancer group with FBI within the tumour tissue had higher levels of FB1 in sera than the IHC FB1 negative group. Fumonisin B1 was localised within irregular profiles of nuclei, elongated and swollen mitochondria and ER. Immunolocalisation of FB1 within organelles in the brain showing ultrastructural cellular pathology suggests FBI may be implicated in the aetiology of human brain carcinogenesis.