Deoxynivalenol downregulates NRF2-induced cytoprotective response in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells.
Ndlovu, Siqiniseko Sinikiwe.
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Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a mycotoxin produced by Fusarium species that commonly infect agricultural foods. DON exhibits multiple toxic effects in both animals and humans, binding to the A site of the 28S ribosome and inhibits peptidyl transferase and protein elongation. It induces cytotoxicity through oxidative stress and inhibition of protein synthesis. Liver cells possess the antioxidant signalling mediator - Nuclear erythroid-2-Related factor (NRF2) that is activated in response to oxidative stress. There is no sufficient work done to show if the HepG2cells have an ability to withstand the molecular modifications induced by DON. The aim of the study was to investigate the cytotoxicity of DON and its effect on the NRF2 antioxidant response in HepG2 cells. The MTT assay was used to determine a dose response of DON (72 hr) on cell viability and to generate an IC50 value to use in subsequent assays. The intracellular concentration of GSH and ATP was determined using Luminometry. Lipid peroxidation and membrane damage were assessed by TBARS and LDH cytotoxicity assays respectively. Protein expression of NRF2, phosphorylated (p-)NRF2, catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD)2, and Sirtuin (Sirt)3 was quantified by Western Blotting. The mRNA expressions of GPx, CAT and SOD2 were quantified using qPCR. DON decreased cell viability in a dose-dependent manner with an IC50 value of 26.17 μM. DON caused a significant decrease in the intracellular GSH concentration (1.77-fold, p= 0.0005). There was a significant decrease in the intracellular ATP content (1.92-fold, p= 0.0002).The study shows an induced lipid peroxidation and membrane damage in HepG2 cells by DON, as there was a significant increase in extracellular levels of both MDA (1.89-fold, p=0.0020) and LDH (1.35-fold, p=0.0207). DON reduced total NRF2 expression (0.30-fold, p= 0.0017), however activated p-NRF2 was significantly up-regulated (3.54-fold, p= 0.0085). There was a downregulation in the NRF2 target antioxidant proteins: CAT (0.33-fold, p= 0.005) with a concomitant decrease in CAT mRNA levels (0.02-fold, p= 0.0003), SOD2 (0.02-fold, p= 0.0137), with a parallel trend in the levels of SOD2 mRNA (0.06-fold, p= 0.0020) by DON. This toxin also significantly decreased the mRNA expression of GPx levels (0.03-fold, p= 0.0006). The expression of a mitochondrial stress response Sirt3 was significantly decreased (0.14-fold, p= 0.0058). Taken together, the data shows that DON causes oxidative stress and downregulates the NRF2-induced cytoprotection in HepG2 cells. Keywords: Deoxynivalenol Antioxidant response NRF-2