An in vivo study to determine the effects of Ochratoxin A and Sutherlandia frutescens in male Wistar rats.
Ochratoxin A (OTA), a nephrotoxic mycotoxin, is a contaminant of several agricultural food products consumed by animals and humans. Apart from renal toxicity, in particular renal tumours, OTA may also result in teratogenicity, neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity. Sutherlandia frutescens, an indigenous medicinal plant, has shown significant potential in strengthening the immune system and in cancer treatment, with minimal side effects. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of OTA in male Wistar rats and ascertain if these effects may be reduced by S. frutescens. Rats were treated by intraperitoneal injection (i.p) with either a control (EtOH:dH20;30:70), S. frutescens (1.0mg/kg body weight), OTA (0.5mg/kg body weight) or a combination of OTA and S. frutescens for a period of 1 or 7 days (n=4). Genotoxicity and metabolic activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were quantified using single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) and the methylthiazol tetrazolium (MTT) assay, respectively. Lymphocyte apoptosis and mitochondrial depolarisation were measured by flow cytometry. Fluorescence microscopy was utilised to determine renal tissue apoptosis (Hoechst staining) and OTA localisation using immunohistochemistry (IRC). SDS-PAGE and Western blot were utilised to determine protein expression in kidney tissue and serum. Ochratoxin A significantly reduced PBMC viability (14%) after 7 days, compared with Day 1 (p<0.001). Lymphocyte mitochondrial depolarisation was 56.5% and 66.2% in the OTA-only and combination groups, respectively after 7 days (p<0.001). Ochratoxin A produced an increase in DNA damage compared to the control (p<0.01). The renal tissue displayed typical signs of apoptosis such as chromatin condensation. Ochratoxin A was immunolocalised within the glomerulus. The protein analysis showed a decreased expression in the kidney mitochondrial protein fraction. Ochratoxin A preferentially bound to serum albumin and a 120kDa protein in the OTA-only and co-treatment groups after the 1-and 7-day regimes. Protein band intensities significantly decreased after the 7-day co-treatment (p<0.01). The data highlights that OTA toxicity is mediated by mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, OTA disruptions in immune function may play a role in renal damage.