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Toxins, Volume 11, Issue 12 (December 2019)

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Open AccessArticle
PirABVP Toxin Binds to Epithelial Cells of the Digestive Tract and Produce Pathognomonic AHPND Lesions in Germ-Free Brine Shrimp
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120717 (registering DOI) - 09 Dec 2019
Abstract
Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), a newly emergent farmed penaeid shrimp bacterial disease originally known as early mortality syndrome (EMS), is causing havoc in the shrimp industry. The causative agent of AHPND was found to be a specific strain of bacteria, e.g., Vibrio [...] Read more.
Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), a newly emergent farmed penaeid shrimp bacterial disease originally known as early mortality syndrome (EMS), is causing havoc in the shrimp industry. The causative agent of AHPND was found to be a specific strain of bacteria, e.g., Vibrio and Shewanella sps., that contains pVA1 plasmid (63–70 kb) encoding the binary PirAVP and PirBVP toxins. The PirABVP and toxins are the primary virulence factors of AHPND-causing bacteria that mediates AHPND and mortality in shrimp. Hence, in this study using a germ-free brine shrimp model system, we evaluated the PirABVP toxin-mediated infection process at cellular level, including toxin attachment and subsequent toxin-induced damage to the digestive tract. The results showed that, PirABVP toxin binds to epithelial cells of the digestive tract of brine shrimp larvae and produces characteristic symptoms of AHPND. In the PirABVP-challenged brine shrimp larvae, shedding or sloughing of enterocytes in the midgut and hindgut regions was regularly visualized, and the intestinal lumen was filled with moderately electron-dense cells of variable shapes and sizes. In addition, the observed cellular debris in the intestinal lumen of the digestive tract was found to be of epithelial cell origin. The detailed morphology of the digestive tract demonstrates further that the PirABVP toxin challenge produces focal to extensive necrosis and damages epithelial cells in the midgut and hindgut regions, resulting in pyknosis, cell vacuolisation, and mitochondrial and rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) damage to different degrees. Taken together, our study provides substantial evidence that PirABVP toxins bind to the digestive tract of brine shrimp larvae and seem to be responsible for generating characteristic AHPND lesions and damaging enterocytes in the midgut and hindgut regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
Open AccessArticle
Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Malawian Farmers on Pre- and Post-Harvest Crop Management to Mitigate Aflatoxin Contamination in Groundnut, Maize and Sorghum—Implication for Behavioral Change
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120716 (registering DOI) - 09 Dec 2019
Abstract
A knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study was conducted in three districts of Malawi to test whether the training had resulted in increased knowledge and adoption of recommended pre- and post-harvest crop management practices, and their contribution to reducing aflatoxin contamination in groundnut, [...] Read more.
A knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study was conducted in three districts of Malawi to test whether the training had resulted in increased knowledge and adoption of recommended pre- and post-harvest crop management practices, and their contribution to reducing aflatoxin contamination in groundnut, maize and sorghum. The study was conducted with 900 farmers at the baseline and 624 farmers at the end-line, while 726 and 696 harvested crop samples were collected for aflatoxin testing at the baseline and end-line, respectively. Results show that the knowledge and practice of pre- and post-harvest crop management for mitigating aflatoxin were inadequate among the farmers at the baseline but somewhat improved after the training as shown at the end-line. As a result, despite unfavorable weather, the mean aflatoxin contamination level in their grain samples decreased from 83.6 to 55.8 ppb (p < 0.001). However, it was also noted that increased knowledge did not significantly change farmers’ attitude toward not consuming grade-outs because of economic incentive incompatibility, leaving potential for improving the practices further. This existing gap in the adoption of aflatoxin mitigation practices calls for approaches that take into account farmers’ needs and incentives to attain sustainable behavioral change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
Open AccessArticle
Selected Trichothecenes in Barley Malt and Beer from Poland and an Assessment of Dietary Risks Associated with their Consumption
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120715 - 09 Dec 2019
Abstract
Eighty-seven samples of malt from several Polish malting plants and 157 beer samples from the beer available on the Polish market (in 2018) were tested for Fusarium mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol (DON), nivalenol (NIV)), and their modified forms ((deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside (DON-3G), nivalenol-3-glucoside (NIV-3G), 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-AcDON)). DON [...] Read more.
Eighty-seven samples of malt from several Polish malting plants and 157 beer samples from the beer available on the Polish market (in 2018) were tested for Fusarium mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol (DON), nivalenol (NIV)), and their modified forms ((deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside (DON-3G), nivalenol-3-glucoside (NIV-3G), 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-AcDON)). DON and its metabolite, DON-3G, were found the most, among the samples analyzed; DON and DON-3G were present in 90% and 91% of malt samples, and in 97% and 99% of beer samples, respectively. NIV was found in 24% of malt samples and in 64% of beer samples, and NIV-3G was found in 48% of malt samples and 39% of beer samples. In the malt samples, the mean concentration of DON was 52.9 µg/kg (range: 5.3–347.6 µg/kg) and that of DON-3G was 74.1 µg/kg (range: 4.4–410.3 µg/kg). In the beer samples, the mean concentration of DON was 12.3 µg/L (range: 1.2–156.5 µg/L) and that of DON-3G was 7.1 µg/L (range: 0.6–58.4 µg/L). The concentrations of other tested mycotoxins in the samples of malt and beer were several times lower. The risk of exposure to the tested mycotoxins, following the consumption of beer in Poland, was assessed. The corresponding probable daily intakes (PDIs) remained a small fraction of the tolerable daily intake (TDI). However, in the improbable worst-case scenario, in which every beer bottle consumed would be contaminated with mycotoxins present at the highest level observed among the analyzed beer samples, the PDI would exceed the TDI for DON and its metabolite after the consumption of a single bottle (0.5 L) of beer. Full article
Open AccessReview
Structural Diversity, Characterization and Toxicology of Microcystins
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120714 - 07 Dec 2019
Abstract
Hepatotoxic microcystins (MCs) are the most widespread class of cyanotoxins and the one that has most often been implicated in cyanobacterial toxicosis. One of the main challenges in studying and monitoring MCs is the great structural diversity within the class. The full chemical [...] Read more.
Hepatotoxic microcystins (MCs) are the most widespread class of cyanotoxins and the one that has most often been implicated in cyanobacterial toxicosis. One of the main challenges in studying and monitoring MCs is the great structural diversity within the class. The full chemical structure of the first MC was elucidated in the early 1980s and since then, the number of reported structural analogues has grown steadily and continues to do so, thanks largely to advances in analytical methodology. The structures of some of these analogues have been definitively elucidated after chemical isolation using a combination of techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance, amino acid analysis, and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Others have only been tentatively identified using liquid chromatography-MS/MS without chemical isolation. An understanding of the structural diversity of MCs, the genetic and environmental controls for this diversity and the impact of structure on toxicity are all essential to the ongoing study of MCs across several scientific disciplines. However, because of the diversity of MCs and the range of approaches that have been taken for characterizing them, comprehensive information on the state of knowledge in each of these areas can be challenging to gather. We have conducted an in-depth review of the literature surrounding the identification and toxicity of known MCs and present here a concise review of these topics. At present, at least 279 MCs have been reported and are tabulated here. Among these, about 20% (55 of 279) appear to be the result of chemical or biochemical transformations of MCs that can occur in the environment or during sample handling and extraction of cyanobacteria, including oxidation products, methyl esters, or post-biosynthetic metabolites. The toxicity of many MCs has also been studied using a range of different approaches and a great deal of variability can be observed between reported toxicities, even for the same congener. This review will help clarify the current state of knowledge on the structural diversity of MCs as a class and the impacts of structure on toxicity, as well as to identify gaps in knowledge that should be addressed in future research. Full article
Open AccessReview
Critical Analysis of Neuronal Cell and the Mouse Bioassay for Detection of Botulinum Neurotoxins
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 713; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120713 - 07 Dec 2019
Abstract
Botulinum Neurotoxins (BoNTs) are a large protein family that includes the most potent neurotoxins known to humankind. BoNTs delivered locally in humans at low doses are widely used pharmaceuticals. Reliable and quantitative detection of BoNTs is of paramount importance for the clinical diagnosis [...] Read more.
Botulinum Neurotoxins (BoNTs) are a large protein family that includes the most potent neurotoxins known to humankind. BoNTs delivered locally in humans at low doses are widely used pharmaceuticals. Reliable and quantitative detection of BoNTs is of paramount importance for the clinical diagnosis of botulism, basic research, drug development, potency determination, and detection in clinical, environmental, and food samples. Ideally, a definitive assay for BoNT should reflect the activity of each of the four steps in nerve intoxication. The in vivo mouse bioassay (MBA) is the ‘gold standard’ for the detection of BoNTs. The MBA is sensitive, robust, semi-quantitative, and reliable within its sensitivity limits. Potential drawbacks with the MBA include assay-to-assay potency variations, especially between laboratories, and false positives or negatives. These limitations can be largely avoided by careful planning and performance. Another detection method that has gained importance in recent years for research and potency determination of pharmaceutical BoNTs is cell-based assays, as these assays can be highly sensitive, quantitative, human-specific, and detect fully functional holotoxins at physiologically relevant concentrations. A myriad of other in vitro BoNT detection methods exist. This review focuses on critical factors and assay limitations of the mouse bioassay and cell-based assays for BoNT detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Characterization and Quantitative Analysis of Botulinum Neurotoxin)
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Open AccessArticle
Physiological Effects on Coexisting Microalgae of the Allelochemicals Produced by the Bloom-Forming Cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. and Nodularia Spumigena
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 712; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120712 - 06 Dec 2019
Abstract
Only a few studies have documented the physiological effects of allelopathy from cyanobacteria against coexisting microalgae. We investigated the allelopathic ability of the bloom-forming cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. and Nodularia spumigena filtrates on several aspects related to the physiology of the target species: population [...] Read more.
Only a few studies have documented the physiological effects of allelopathy from cyanobacteria against coexisting microalgae. We investigated the allelopathic ability of the bloom-forming cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. and Nodularia spumigena filtrates on several aspects related to the physiology of the target species: population growth, cell morphology, and several indexes of photosynthesis rate and respiration. The target species were the following: two species of green algae (Oocystis submarina, Chlorella vulgaris) and two species of diatoms (Bacillaria paxillifer, Skeletonema marinoi). These four species coexist in the natural environment with the employed strains of Synechococcus sp. and N. spumigena employed. The tests were performed with single and repeated addition of cyanobacterial cell-free filtrate. We also tested the importance of the growth phase in the strength of the allelopathic effect. The negative effects of both cyanobacteria were the strongest with repeated exudates addition, and generally, Synechococcus sp. and N. spumigena were allelopathic only in the exponential growth phase. O. submarina was not negatively affected by Synechococcus filtrates in any of the parameters studied, while C. vulgaris, B. paxillifer, and S. marinoi were affected in several ways. N. spumigena was characterized by a stronger allelopathic activity than Synechococcus sp., showing a negative effect on all target species. The highest decline in growth, as well as the most apparent cell physical damage, was observed for the diatom S. marinoi. Our findings suggest that cyanobacterial allelochemicals are associated with the cell physical damage, as well as a reduced performance in respiration and photosynthesis system in the studied microalgae which cause the inhibition of the population growth. Moreover, our study has shown that some biotic factors that increase the intensity of allelopathic effects may also alter the ratio between bloom-forming cyanobacteria and some phytoplankton species that occur in the same aquatic ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Role of Cyanotoxins: Experimental and In-Field Evidence)
Open AccessArticle
Coevolution of Snake Venom Toxic Activities and Diet: Evidence that Ecological Generalism Favours Toxicological Diversity
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120711 - 06 Dec 2019
Abstract
Snake venom evolution is typically considered to be predominantly driven by diet-related selection pressures. Most evidence for this is based on lethality to prey and non-prey species and on the identification of prey specific toxins. Since the broad toxicological activities (e.g., neurotoxicity, coagulotoxicity, [...] Read more.
Snake venom evolution is typically considered to be predominantly driven by diet-related selection pressures. Most evidence for this is based on lethality to prey and non-prey species and on the identification of prey specific toxins. Since the broad toxicological activities (e.g., neurotoxicity, coagulotoxicity, etc.) sit at the interface between molecular toxinology and lethality, these classes of activity may act as a key mediator in coevolutionary interactions between snakes and their prey. Indeed, some recent work has suggested that variation in these functional activities may be related to diet as well, but previous studies have been limited in geographic and/or taxonomic scope. In this paper, we take a phylogenetic comparative approach to investigate relationships between diet and toxicological activity classes on a global scale across caenophidian snakes, using the clinically oriented database at toxinology.com. We generally find little support for specific prey types selecting for particular toxicological effects except that reptile-feeders are more likely to be neurotoxic. We find some support for endothermic prey (with higher metabolic rates) influencing toxic activities, but differently from previous suggestions in the literature. More broadly, we find strong support for a general effect of increased diversity of prey on the diversity of toxicological effects of snake venom. Hence, we provide evidence that selection pressures on the toxicological activities of snake venom has largely been driven by prey diversity rather than specific types of prey. These results complement and extend previous work to suggest that specific matching of venom characteristics to prey may occur at the molecular level and translate into venom lethality, but the functional link between those two is not constrained to a particular toxicological route. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Venom)
Open AccessArticle
Efficacy of the Combined Protective Cultures of Penicillium chrysogenum and Debaryomyces hansenii for the Control of Ochratoxin A Hazards in Dry-Cured Ham
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120710 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
The ecological conditions during the ripening of dry-cured ham favour the development of moulds on its surface, being frequently the presence of Penicillium nordicum, a producer of ochratoxin A (OTA). Biocontrol using moulds and yeasts usually found in dry-cured ham is a [...] Read more.
The ecological conditions during the ripening of dry-cured ham favour the development of moulds on its surface, being frequently the presence of Penicillium nordicum, a producer of ochratoxin A (OTA). Biocontrol using moulds and yeasts usually found in dry-cured ham is a promising strategy to minimize this hazard. The aim of this work is to evaluate the effect of previously selected Debaryomyces hansenii and Penicillium chrysogenum strains on growth, OTA production, and relative expression of genes involved in the OTA biosynthesis by P. nordicum. P. nordicum was inoculated against the protective cultures individually and combined on dry-cured ham for 21 days at 20 °C. None of the treatments reduced the growth of P. nordicum, but all of them decreased OTA concentration. The lower production of OTA could be related to significant repression of the relative expression of otapksPN and otanpsPN genes of P. nordicum. The efficacy of the combined protective cultures was tested in 24 dry-cured hams in industrial ripening (an 8 month-long production). OTA was detected in nine of the 12 dry-cured hams in the batch inoculated only with P. nordicum. However, in the batch inoculated with both P. nordicum and the combined protective culture, a considerable reduction of OTA contamination was observed. In conclusion, although the efficacy of individual use P. chrysogenum is great, the combination with D. hansenii enhances its antifungal activity and could be proposed as a mixed protective culture to control the hazard of the presence of OTA in dry-cured ham. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Approaches to Minimising Mycotoxin Contamination)
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Open AccessArticle
Occurrence and Risk Assessment of Fumonisin B1 and B2 Mycotoxins in Maize-Based Food Products in Hungary
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 709; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120709 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Fumonisins are toxic secondary metabolites produced mainly by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum. Their toxicity was evaluated, and health-based guidance values established on the basis of both Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommendations. This [...] Read more.
Fumonisins are toxic secondary metabolites produced mainly by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum. Their toxicity was evaluated, and health-based guidance values established on the basis of both Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommendations. This study presents the results of fumonisin analyses in different maize- and rice-based food products in Hungary and the potential health risk arising from their dietary intake. In total, 326 samples were measured in 2017 and 2018 to determine fumonisins B1 and B2 levels. Three-day dietary record data were collected from 4992 consumers, in 2009. For each food category, the average concentration values were multiplied by the relevant individual consumption data, and the results were compared to the reference values. With respect to the maximum limits, one maize flour, two maize grits, and two samples of other maize-based, snack-like products had total fumonisin content minimally exceeding the EU regulatory limit. The mean daily intake for all maize-product consumers was 0.045–0.120 µg/kg bw/day. The high intake (95 percentile) ranged between 0.182 and 0.396 µg/kg bw/day, well below the 1 µg/kg bw/day tolerable daily intake (TDI) established by EFSA. While the intake calculations resulted in comforting results, maize-based products may indeed be contaminated by fumonisins. Therefore, frequent monitoring of fumonisins’ levels and evaluation of their intakes using the best available data are recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Feed and Food Chain: Present Status and Future Concerns)
Open AccessArticle
Identification and Characterization of ShSPI, a Kazal-Type Elastase Inhibitor from the Venom of Scolopendra Hainanum
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 708; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120708 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Elastase is a globular glycoprotein and belongs to the chymotrypsin family. It is involved in several inflammatory cascades on the basis of cleaving the important connective tissue protein elastin, and is strictly regulated to a balance by several endogenous inhibitors. When elastase and [...] Read more.
Elastase is a globular glycoprotein and belongs to the chymotrypsin family. It is involved in several inflammatory cascades on the basis of cleaving the important connective tissue protein elastin, and is strictly regulated to a balance by several endogenous inhibitors. When elastase and its inhibitors are out of balance, severe diseases will develop, especially those involved in the cardiopulmonary system. Much attention has been attracted in seeking innovative elastase inhibitors and various advancements have been taken on clinical trials of these inhibitors. Natural functional peptides from venomous animals have been shown to have anti-protease properties. Here, we identified a kazal-type serine protease inhibitor named ShSPI from the cDNA library of the venom glands of Scolopendra hainanum. ShSPI showed significant inhibitory effects on porcine pancreatic elastase and human neutrophils elastase with Ki values of 225.83 ± 20 nM and 12.61 ± 2 nM, respectively. Together, our results suggest that ShSPI may be an excellent candidate to develop a drug for cardiopulmonary diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Their Components: Molecular Mechanisms of Action)
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Open AccessReview
Botulinum Toxin Therapy Combined with Rehabilitation for Stroke: A Systematic Review of Effect on Motor Function
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120707 (registering DOI) - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of botulinum toxin A (BoNT-A) therapy combined with rehabilitation on motor function in post-stroke patients. Methods: The following sources up to December 31, 2018, were searched from inception for articles in English: [...] Read more.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of botulinum toxin A (BoNT-A) therapy combined with rehabilitation on motor function in post-stroke patients. Methods: The following sources up to December 31, 2018, were searched from inception for articles in English: Pubmed, Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, and CENTRAL. Trials using injections of BoNT-A for upper and lower limb rehabilitation were examined. We excluded studies that were not performed for rehabilitation or were not evaluated for motor function. Results: Twenty-six studies were included. In addition to rehabilitation, nine studies used adjuvant treatment to improve spasticity or improve motor function. In the upper limbs, two of 14 articles indicated that significant improvement in upper limb motor function was observed compared to the control group. In the lower limbs, seven of 14 articles indicated that significant improvement in lower limb motor function was observed compared to the control group. Conclusions: The effect of combined with rehabilitation is limited after stroke, and there is not sufficient evidence, but results suggest that BoNT-A may help to improve motor function. In future studies, the establishment of optimal rehabilitation and evaluation times of BoNT-A treatment will be necessary for improving motor function and spasticity. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Programmed Cell Death-Like and Accompanying Release of Microcystin in Freshwater Bloom-Forming Cyanobacterium Microcystis: From Identification to Ecological Relevance
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120706 - 04 Dec 2019
Abstract
Microcystis is the most common freshwater bloom-forming cyanobacteria. Its massive blooms not only adversely affect the functionality of aquatic ecosystems, but are also associated with the production of microcystins (MCs), a group of potent toxins that become a threat to public health when [...] Read more.
Microcystis is the most common freshwater bloom-forming cyanobacteria. Its massive blooms not only adversely affect the functionality of aquatic ecosystems, but are also associated with the production of microcystins (MCs), a group of potent toxins that become a threat to public health when cell-bound MCs are significantly released from the dying Microcystis into the water column. Managing Microcystis blooms thus requires sufficient knowledge regarding both the cell death modes and the release of toxins. Recently, more and more studies have demonstrated the occurrence of programmed cell death-like (or apoptosis-like) events in laboratory and field samples of Microcystis. Apoptosis is a genetically controlled process that is essential for the development and survival of metazoa; however, it has been gradually realized to be an existing phenomenon playing important ecological roles in unicellular microorganisms. Here, we review the current progress and the existing knowledge gap regarding apoptosis-like death in Microcystis. Specifically, we focus first on the tools utilized to characterize the apoptosis-related biochemical and morphological features in Microcystis. We further outline various stressful stimuli that trigger the occurrence of apoptosis and discuss the potential mechanisms of apoptosis in Microcystis. We then propose a conceptual model to describe the functional coupling of apoptosis and MC in Microcystis. This model could be useful for understanding both roles of MC and apoptosis in this species. Lastly, we conclude the review by highlighting the current knowledge gap and considering the direction of future research. Overall, this review provides a recent update with respect to the knowledge of apoptosis in Microcystis and also offers a guide for future investigations of its ecology and survival strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Role of Cyanotoxins: Experimental and In-Field Evidence)
Open AccessArticle
Curine Inhibits Macrophage Activation and Neutrophil Recruitment in a Mouse Model of Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammation
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 705; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120705 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
Curine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid (BBA) with anti-allergic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Previous studies have demonstrated that this alkaloid is orally active at non-toxic doses. However, the mechanisms underlying its anti-inflammatory effects remain to be elucidated. This work aimed to investigate the effects [...] Read more.
Curine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid (BBA) with anti-allergic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Previous studies have demonstrated that this alkaloid is orally active at non-toxic doses. However, the mechanisms underlying its anti-inflammatory effects remain to be elucidated. This work aimed to investigate the effects of curine on macrophage activation and neutrophil recruitment. Using a murine model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced pleurisy, we demonstrated that curine significantly inhibited the recruitment of neutrophils in association with the inhibition of cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein (CCL2/MCP-1) as well as leukotriene B4 in the pleural lavage of mice. Curine treatment reduced cytokine levels and the expression of iNOS in in vitro cultures of macrophages stimulated with LPS. Treatment with a calcium channel blocker resulted in comparable inhibition of TNF-α and IL-1β production, as well as iNOS expression by macrophages, suggesting that the anti-inflammatory effects of curine may be related to the inhibition of calcium-dependent mechanisms involved in macrophage activation. In conclusion, curine presented anti-inflammatory effects that are associated with inhibition of macrophage activation and neutrophil recruitment by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines, LTB4 and nitric oxide (NO), and possibly by negatively modulating Ca2+ influx. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Activities of Alkaloids: From Toxicology to Pharmacology)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Atmospheric Cold Plasma Treatments on Reduction of Alternaria Toxins Content in Wheat Flour
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 704; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120704 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
Beside Fusarium toxins, Alternaria toxins are among the most commonly found mycotoxins in wheat and wheat products. Currently, investigations of possibilities of reduction of Alternaria toxins in the wheat-processing chain are limited. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the potency [...] Read more.
Beside Fusarium toxins, Alternaria toxins are among the most commonly found mycotoxins in wheat and wheat products. Currently, investigations of possibilities of reduction of Alternaria toxins in the wheat-processing chain are limited. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the potency of cold atmospheric plasma treatments, as a new non-thermal approach, for reduction of alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME) and tentoxin (TEN) content in spiked white wheat flour samples. Samples were treated with plasma generated in the air during 30 s to 180 s, with an increment step of 30 s, and at four varying distances from the cold plasma source (6 mm, 21 mm, 36 mm and 51 mm). The reduction of the Alternaria toxins content in samples after treatment was monitored by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The maximum reduction of the examined Alternaria toxins was obtained by treatment performed at 6 mm distance from the plasma source, lasting 180 s, resulting in reductions of 60.6%, 73.8% and 54.5% for AOH, AME and TEN, respectively. According to the obtained experimental results, five empirical models in the form of the second-order polynomials were developed for the prediction of AOH, AME and TEN reduction, as well as the temperature and the moisture content of the wheat flour, that gave a good fit to experimental data and were able to predict the response variables successfully. The developed second-order polynomial models showed high coefficients of determination for prediction of experimental results (between 0.918 and 0.961). Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Variants of Escherichia coli Subtilase Cytotoxin Subunits Show Differences in Complex Formation In Vitro
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 703; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120703 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
The subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB) of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a member of the AB5 toxin family. In the current study, we analyzed the formation of active homo- and hetero-complexes of SubAB variants in vitro to characterize the mode of assembly [...] Read more.
The subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB) of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a member of the AB5 toxin family. In the current study, we analyzed the formation of active homo- and hetero-complexes of SubAB variants in vitro to characterize the mode of assembly of the subunits. Recombinant SubA1-His, SubB1-His, SubA2-2-His, and SubB2-2-His subunits, and His-tag-free SubA2-2 were separately expressed, purified, and biochemically characterized by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), and analytical ultracentrifugation (aUC). To confirm their biological activity, cytotoxicity assays were performed with HeLa cells. The formation of AB5 complexes was investigated with aUC and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Binding of SubAB2-2-His to HeLa cells was characterized with flow cytometry (FACS). Cytotoxicity experiments revealed that the analyzed recombinant subtilase subunits were biochemically functional and capable of intoxicating HeLa cells. Inhibition of cytotoxicity by Brefeldin A demonstrated that the cleavage is specific. All His-tagged subunits, as well as the non-tagged SubA2-2 subunit, showed the expected secondary structural compositions and oligomerization. Whereas SubAB1-His complexes could be reconstituted in solution, and revealed a Kd value of 3.9 ± 0.8 μmol/L in the lower micromolar range, only transient interactions were observed for the subunits of SubAB2-2-His in solution, which did not result in any binding constant when analyzed with ITC. Additional studies on the binding characteristics of SubAB2-2-His on HeLa cells revealed that the formation of transient complexes improved binding to the target cells. Conclusively, we hypothesize that SubAB variants exhibit different characteristics in their binding behavior to their target cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Immunogenic Properties of Recombinant Enzymes from Bothrops Ammodytoides Towards the Generation of Neutralizing Antibodies against Its Own Venom
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120702 - 02 Dec 2019
Abstract
Bothropic venoms contain enzymes such as metalloproteases, serine-proteases, and phospholipases, which acting by themselves, or in synergism, are the cause of the envenomation symptoms and death. Here, two mRNA transcripts, one that codes for a metalloprotease and another for a serine-protease, were isolated [...] Read more.
Bothropic venoms contain enzymes such as metalloproteases, serine-proteases, and phospholipases, which acting by themselves, or in synergism, are the cause of the envenomation symptoms and death. Here, two mRNA transcripts, one that codes for a metalloprotease and another for a serine-protease, were isolated from a Bothrops ammodytoides venom gland. The metalloprotease and serine-protease transcripts were cloned on a pCR®2.1-TOPO vector and consequently expressed in a recombinant way in E. coli (strains Origami and M15, respectively), using pQE30 vectors. The recombinant proteins were named rBamSP_1 and rBamMP_1, and they were formed by an N-terminal fusion protein of 16 amino acid residues, followed by the sequence of the mature proteins. After bacterial expression, each recombinant enzyme was recovered from inclusion bodies and treated with chaotropic agents. The experimental molecular masses for rBamSP_1 and rBamMP_1 agreed with their expected theoretical ones, and their secondary structure spectra obtained by circular dichroism were comparable to that of similar proteins. Additionally, equivalent mixtures of rBamSP_1, rBamMP_1 together with a previous reported recombinant phospholipase, rBamPLA2_1, were used to immunize rabbits to produce serum antibodies, which in turn recognized serine-proteases, metalloproteases and PLA2s from B. ammodytoides and other regional viper venoms. Finally, rabbit antibodies neutralized the 3LD50 of B. ammodytoides venom. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Snakebites)
Open AccessReview
Use of Competitive Filamentous Fungi as an Alternative Approach for Mycotoxin Risk Reduction in Staple Cereals: State of Art and Future Perspectives
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 701; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120701 - 02 Dec 2019
Abstract
Among plant fungal diseases, those affecting cereals represent a huge problem in terms of food security and safety. Cereals, such as maize and wheat, are very often targets of mycotoxigenic fungi. The limited availability of chemical plant protection products and physical methods to [...] Read more.
Among plant fungal diseases, those affecting cereals represent a huge problem in terms of food security and safety. Cereals, such as maize and wheat, are very often targets of mycotoxigenic fungi. The limited availability of chemical plant protection products and physical methods to control mycotoxigenic fungi and to reduce food and feed mycotoxin contamination fosters alternative approaches, such as the use of beneficial fungi as an active ingredient of biological control products. Competitive interactions, including both exploitation and interference competition, between pathogenic and beneficial fungi, are generally recognized as mechanisms to control plant pathogens populations and to manage plant diseases. In the present review, two examples concerning the use of competitive beneficial filamentous fungi for the management of cereal diseases are discussed. The authors retrace the history of the well-established use of non-aflatoxigenic isolates of Aspergillus flavus to prevent aflatoxin contamination in maize and give an overview of the potential use of competitive beneficial filamentous fungi to manage Fusarium Head Blight on wheat and mitigate fusaria toxin contamination. Although important steps have been made towards the development of microorganisms as active ingredients of plant protection products, a reasoned revision of the registration rules is needed to significantly reduce the chemical based plant protection products in agriculture. Full article
Open AccessArticle
In-vitro Application of a Qatari Burkholderia cepacia strain (QBC03) in the Biocontrol of Mycotoxigenic Fungi and in the Reduction of Ochratoxin A biosynthesis by Aspergillus carbonarius
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120700 - 02 Dec 2019
Abstract
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by certain filamentous fungi, causing human and animal health issues upon the ingestion of contaminated food and feed. Among the safest approaches to the control of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxin detoxification is the application of microbial biocontrol agents. [...] Read more.
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by certain filamentous fungi, causing human and animal health issues upon the ingestion of contaminated food and feed. Among the safest approaches to the control of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxin detoxification is the application of microbial biocontrol agents. Burkholderia cepacia is known for producing metabolites active against a broad number of pathogenic fungi. In this study, the antifungal potential of a Qatari strain of Burkholderia cepacia (QBC03) was explored. QBC03 exhibited antifungal activity against a wide range of mycotoxigenic, as well as phytopathogenic, fungal genera and species. The QBC03 culture supernatant significantly inhibited the growth of Aspergillus carbonarius, Fusarium culmorum and Penicillium verrucosum in PDA medium, as well as A. carbonarius and P. verrucosum biomass in PDB medium. The QBC03 culture supernatant was found to dramatically reduce the synthesis of ochratoxin A (OTA) by A. carbonarius, in addition to inducing mycelia malformation. The antifungal activity of QBC03′s culture extract was retained following thermal treatment at 100 °C for 30 min. The findings of the present study advocate that QBC03 is a suitable biocontrol agent against toxigenic fungi, due to the inhibitory activity of its thermostable metabolites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biocontrol Agents and Natural Compounds against Mycotoxinogenic Fungi)
Open AccessArticle
Anti-Nociceptive and Anti-Inflammation Effect Mechanisms of Mutants of Syb-prII, a Recombinant Neurotoxic Polypeptide
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 699; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120699 - 01 Dec 2019
Abstract
Syb-prII, a recombinant neurotoxic polypeptide, has analgesic effects with medicinal value. Previous experiments indicated that Syb-prII displayed strong analgesic activities. Therefore, a series of in vivo and vitro experiments were designed to investigate the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and possible mechanisms of Syb-prII. [...] Read more.
Syb-prII, a recombinant neurotoxic polypeptide, has analgesic effects with medicinal value. Previous experiments indicated that Syb-prII displayed strong analgesic activities. Therefore, a series of in vivo and vitro experiments were designed to investigate the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and possible mechanisms of Syb-prII. The results showed that administered Syb-prII-1 and Syb-prII-2 (0.5, 1, 2.0 mg/kg, i.v.) to mice significantly reduced the time of licking, biting, or flicking of paws in two phases in formalin-induced inflammatory nociception. Syb-prII-1 inhibited xylene-induced auricular swelling in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibitory effect of 2.0 mg/kg Syb-prII-1 on the ear swelling model was comparable to that of 200 mg/kg aspirin. In addition, the ELISA and Western blot analysis suggested that Syb-prII-1 and Syb-prII-2 may exert an analgesic effect by inhibiting the expression of Nav1.8 and the phosphorylation of ERK, JNK, and P38. Syb-prII-1 markedly suppressed the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α of mice in formalin-induced inflammatory nociception. We used the patch-clamp technique and investigated the effect of Syb-prII-1 on TTX-resistant sodium channel currents in acutely isolated rat DRG neurons. The results showed that Syb-prII-1 can significantly down regulate TTX-resistant sodium channel currents. In conclusion, Syb-prII mutants may alleviate inflammatory pain by significantly inhibiting the expression of Nav1.8, mediated by the phosphorylation of MAPKs and significant inhibition of TTX-resistant sodium channel currents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Venoms and Ion Channels)
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Open AccessArticle
High Diversity of Microcystin Chemotypes within a Summer Bloom of the Cyanobacterium Microcystis botrys
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120698 - 01 Dec 2019
Abstract
The fresh-water cyanobacterium Microcystis is known to form blooms world-wide, and is often responsible for the production of microcystins found in lake water. Microcystins are non-ribosomal peptides with toxic effects, e.g. on vertebrates, but their function remains largely unresolved. Moreover, not all strains [...] Read more.
The fresh-water cyanobacterium Microcystis is known to form blooms world-wide, and is often responsible for the production of microcystins found in lake water. Microcystins are non-ribosomal peptides with toxic effects, e.g. on vertebrates, but their function remains largely unresolved. Moreover, not all strains produce microcystins, and many different microcystin variants have been described. Here we explored the diversity of microcystin variants within Microcystis botrys, a common bloom-former in Sweden. We isolated a total of 130 strains through the duration of a bloom in eutrophic Lake Vomb, and analyzed their microcystin profiles with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). We found that microcystin producing (28.5%) and non-producing (71.5%) M. botrys strains, co-existed throughout the bloom. However, microcystin producing strains were more prevalent towards the end of the sampling period. Overall, 26 unique M. botrys chemotypes were identified, and while some chemotypes re-occurred, others were found only once. The M. botrys chemotypes showed considerable variation both in terms of number of microcystin variants, as well as in what combinations the variants occurred. To our knowledge, this is the first report on microcystin chemotype variation and dynamics in M. botrys. In addition, our study verifies the co-existence of microcystin and non-microcystin producing strains, and we propose that environmental conditions may be implicated in determining their composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Drivers of Algal and Cyanobacterial Toxin Dynamics)
Open AccessReview
Philodryas (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) Envenomation, a Neglected Issue in Chile
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 697; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120697 - 29 Nov 2019
Abstract
Snakebite envenomation is considered a neglected tropical disease, although it also occurs outside the tropics. In this work, we analyzed the literature on Philodryas species in Chile (Philodryas chamissonis, P. simonsii, and P. tachymenoides) from 1834 to 2019, searching [...] Read more.
Snakebite envenomation is considered a neglected tropical disease, although it also occurs outside the tropics. In this work, we analyzed the literature on Philodryas species in Chile (Philodryas chamissonis, P. simonsii, and P. tachymenoides) from 1834 to 2019, searching for epidemiological, clinical, and molecular aspects of envenomation. Ninety-one percent of the studies found regarded taxonomy, ecology, and natural history, suggesting that snakebites and venom toxins are a neglected issue in Chile. All snakebite cases reported and toxicological studies concerned the species Philodryas chamissonis. Using 185 distributional records from the literature and museum collections for this species, we show for the first time that the reported snakebite cases correlate with human population density, occurring in the Valparaiso and Metropolitan regions in Central Chile. The reduced number of snakebite cases, which were previously considered as having a low incidence in Chile, may be a consequence of under-reported cases, probably due to the inadequate publication or scarce research on this issue. Absence of information about official pharmacological treatment, post-envenoming sequels, clinical management of particular patient groups (e.g., with non-communicable diseases, pregnant women, and the elderly) was also detected. In conclusion, despite having over 185 years of literature on Chilean snakes, knowledge on the envenomation of Philodryas genus remains scarce, seriously affecting adequate medical handling during an ophidic accident. This review highlights the need to develop deep research in this area and urgent improvements to the management of this disease in Chile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Snakebites)
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Open AccessArticle
An Electrochemical Fiveplex Biochip Assay Based on Anti-Idiotypic Antibodies for Fast On-Site Detection of Bioterrorism Relevant Low Molecular Weight Toxins
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120696 - 28 Nov 2019
Abstract
Modern threats of bioterrorism force the need for multiple detection of biothreat agents to determine the presence or absence of such agents in suspicious samples. Here, we present a rapid electrochemical fiveplex biochip screening assay for detection of the bioterrorism relevant low molecular [...] Read more.
Modern threats of bioterrorism force the need for multiple detection of biothreat agents to determine the presence or absence of such agents in suspicious samples. Here, we present a rapid electrochemical fiveplex biochip screening assay for detection of the bioterrorism relevant low molecular weight toxins saxitoxin, microcystin-LR, T-2 toxin, roridin A and aflatoxin B1 relying on anti-idiotypic antibodies as epitope-mimicking reagents. The proposed method avoids the use of potentially harmful toxin-protein conjugates usually mandatory for competitive immunoassays. The biochip is processed and analyzed on the automated and portable detection platform pBDi within 13.4 min. The fiveplex biochip assay revealed toxin group specificity to multiple congeners. Limits of detection were 1.2 ng/mL, 1.5 ng/mL, 0.4 ng/mL, 0.5 ng/mL and 0.6 ng/mL for saxitoxin, microcystin-LR, T-2 toxin, roridin A or aflatoxin B1, respectively. The robustness of the fiveplex biochip for real samples was demonstrated by detecting saxitoxin, microcystin-LR, HT-2 toxin, roridin A and aflatoxin B1 in contaminated human blood serum without elaborate sample preparation. Recovery rates were between 52–115% covering a wide concentration range. Thus, the developed robust fiveplex biochip assay can be used on-site to quickly detect one or multiple low molecular weight toxins in a single run. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Latoia consocia Caterpillar Induces Pain by Targeting Nociceptive Ion Channel TRPV1
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 695; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120695 - 27 Nov 2019
Abstract
Accidental contact with caterpillar bristles causes local symptoms such as severe pain, intense heat, edema, erythema, and pruritus. However, there is little functional evidence to indicate a potential mechanism. In this study, we analyzed the biological characteristics of the crude venom from the [...] Read more.
Accidental contact with caterpillar bristles causes local symptoms such as severe pain, intense heat, edema, erythema, and pruritus. However, there is little functional evidence to indicate a potential mechanism. In this study, we analyzed the biological characteristics of the crude venom from the larval stage of Latoia consocia living in South-West China. Intraplantar injection of the venom into the hind paws of mice induced severe acute pain behaviors in wild type (WT) mice; the responses were much reduced in TRPV1-deficit (TRPV1 KO) mice. The TRPV1-specific inhibitor, capsazepine, significantly attenuated the pain behaviors. Furthermore, the crude venom evoked strong calcium signals in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of WT mice but not those of TRPV1 KO mice. Among the pain-related ion channels we tested, the crude venom only activated the TRPV1 channel. To better understand the venom components, we analyzed the transcriptome of the L. consocia sebaceous gland region. Our study suggests that TRPV1 serves as a primary nociceptor in caterpillar-induced pain and forms the foundation for elucidating the pain-producing mechanism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Their Components: Molecular Mechanisms of Action)
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Open AccessArticle
Ribosome-Inactivating Protein α-Momorcharin Derived from Edible Plant Momordica charantia Induces Inflammatory Responses by Activating the NF-kappaB and JNK Pathways
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 694; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120694 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
Alpha-momorcharin (α-MMC), a member of the ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) family, has been found in the seeds of Momordica charantia (bitter melon). α-MMC contributes a number of pharmacological activities; however, its inflammatory properties have not been well studied. Here, we aim to determine the [...] Read more.
Alpha-momorcharin (α-MMC), a member of the ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) family, has been found in the seeds of Momordica charantia (bitter melon). α-MMC contributes a number of pharmacological activities; however, its inflammatory properties have not been well studied. Here, we aim to determine the inflammatory responses induced by recombinant α-MMC and identify the underlying mechanisms using cell culture and animal models. Recombinant α-MMC was generated in Rosetta™(DE3)pLysS and purified by the way of nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) chromatography. Treatment of recombinant α-MMC at 40 μg/mL exerted sub-lethal cytotoxic effect on THP-1 monocytic cells. Transcriptional profiling revealed that various genes coding for cytokines and other proinflammatory proteins were upregulated upon recombinant α-MMC treatment in THP-1 cells, including MCP-1, IL-8, IL-1β, and TNF-α. Recombinant α-MMC was shown to activate IKK/NF-κB and JNK pathways and the α-MMC-induced inflammatory gene expression could be blocked by IKKβ and JNK inhibitors. Furthermore, murine inflammatory models further demonstrated that α-MMC induced inflammatory responses in vivo. We conclude that α-MMC stimulates inflammatory responses in human monocytes by activating of IKK/NF-κB and JNK pathways, raising the possibility that consumption of α-MMC-containing food may lead to inflammatory-related diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessArticle
DI/LC–MS/MS-Based Metabolome Analysis of Plasma Reveals the Effects of Sequestering Agents on the Metabolic Status of Dairy Cows Challenged with Aflatoxin B1
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 693; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120693 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
The study applied a targeted metabolomics approach that uses a direct injection and tandem mass spectrometry (DI–MS/MS) coupled with a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS)-based metabolomics of plasma to evaluate the effects of supplementing clay with or without Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product (SCFP) [...] Read more.
The study applied a targeted metabolomics approach that uses a direct injection and tandem mass spectrometry (DI–MS/MS) coupled with a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS)-based metabolomics of plasma to evaluate the effects of supplementing clay with or without Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product (SCFP) on the metabolic status of dairy cows challenged with aflatoxin B1. Eight healthy, lactating, multiparous Holstein cows in early lactation (64 ± 11 DIM) were randomly assigned to one of four treatments in a balanced 4 × 4 duplicated Latin square design with four 33 d periods. Treatments were control, toxin (T; 1725 µg aflatoxin B1 (AFB1)/head/day), T with clay (CL; 200 g/head/day), and CL with SCFP (YEA; 35 g of SCFP/head/day). Cows in T, CL, and YEA were dosed with aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) from days 26 to 30. The sequestering agents were top-dressed from day 1 to 33. On day 30 of each period, 15 mL of blood was taken from the coccygeal vessels and plasma samples were obtained from blood by centrifugation and analyzed for metabolites using a kit that combines DI–MS/MS with LC–MS/MS-based metabolomics. The data were analyzed using the GLIMMIX procedure of SAS. The model included the effects of treatment, period, and random effects of cow and square. Significance was declared at p ≤ 0.05. Biomarker profiles for aflatoxin ingestion in dairy cows fed no sequestering agents were determined using receiver–operator characteristic (ROC) curves, as calculated by the ROCCET web server. A total of 127 metabolites such as amino acids, biogenic amines, acylcarnitines, glycerophospholipids, and organic acids were quantified. Compared with the control, T decreased (p < 0.05) plasma concentrations of alanine, leucine, and arginine and tended to decrease that of citrulline. Treatment with CL had no effects on any of the metabolites relative to the control but increased (p ≤ 0.05) concentrations of alanine, leucine, arginine, and that of citrulline (p = 0.07) relative to T. Treatment with YEA resulted in greater (p ≤ 0.05) concentrations of aspartic acid and lysine relative to the control and the highest (p ≤ 0.05) plasma concentrations of alanine, valine, proline, threonine, leucine, isoleucine, glutamic acid, phenylalanine, and arginine compared with other treatments. The results of ROC analysis between C and T groups revealed that the combination of arginine, alanine, methylhistidine, and citrulline had sufficient specificity and sensitivity (area under the curve = 0.986) to be excellent potential biomarkers of aflatoxin ingestion in dairy cows fed no sequestering agents. This study confirmed the protective effects of sequestering agents in dairy cows challenged with aflatoxin B1. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyphasic Assessment of Aflatoxin Production Potential in Selected Aspergilli
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 692; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120692 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
This study investigated the aflatoxin production potentials of selected fungi using a polyphasic approach. Internally transcribed spacer region of the fungi was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction. Forty-five Aspergillus strains were further assessed for aflatoxin production using the conventional methods such as [...] Read more.
This study investigated the aflatoxin production potentials of selected fungi using a polyphasic approach. Internally transcribed spacer region of the fungi was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction. Forty-five Aspergillus strains were further assessed for aflatoxin production using the conventional methods such as growth on yeast extract sucrose, β-cyclodextrin neutral red desiccated coconut agar (β-CNRDCA); expression of the aflatoxin regulatory genes and the use of both thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). A large proportion (82.22%) of the isolates harbored the Nor-1 gene while 55.56%, 68.89%, and 80% possessed the ver-1, omt-A, and aflR genes, respectively. All 100% the isolates harbored the aflJ gene. Twenty-three isolates were positive for aflatoxin production based on the yeast extract sucrose medium (YES) test; ammonium vapor test (51%), yellow pigment production (75.5%), and β-CNRDCA tests; and blue/green fluorescence (57.7%). Based on TLC detection 42.2% produced aflatoxins while in the HPLC, total aflatoxin (AFTOT) production concentrations ranged from 6.77–71,453 µg/g. Detectable aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) concentrations obtained from the HPLC ranged between 3.76 and 70,288 µg/g; 6.77 and 242.50 µg/g for aflatoxin B2 (AFB2); 1.87 and 745.30 µg/g for aflatoxin G1 (AFG1); and 1.67 and 768.52 µg/g for aflatoxin G2 (AFG2). AFTOT contamination levels were higher than European Union tolerable limits (4 µg/kg). The regression coefficient was one (R2 = 1) while significant differences exist in the aflatoxin concentrations of Aspergillus (p ≤ 0.05). This study reports the potentials of Aspergillus oryzae previously known as a non-aflatoxin producer to produce AFG1, AFG2, AFB1, and AFB2 toxins. Aspergillus species in feedlots of animals reared for food are capable of producing aflatoxins which could pose hazards to health. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Detection of Abrin-Like and Prepropulchellin-Like Toxin Genes and Transcripts Using Whole Genome Sequencing and Full-Length Transcript Sequencing of Abrus precatorius
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120691 - 25 Nov 2019
Abstract
The sequenced genome and the leaf transcriptome of a near relative of Abrus pulchellus and Abrus precatorius was analyzed to characterize the genetic basis of toxin gene expression. From the high-quality genome assembly, a total of 26 potential coding regions were identified that [...] Read more.
The sequenced genome and the leaf transcriptome of a near relative of Abrus pulchellus and Abrus precatorius was analyzed to characterize the genetic basis of toxin gene expression. From the high-quality genome assembly, a total of 26 potential coding regions were identified that contain genes with abrin-like, pulchellin-like, and agglutinin-like homology, with full-length transcripts detected in leaf tissue for 9 of the 26 coding regions. All of the toxin-like genes were identified within only five isolated regions of the genome, with each region containing 1 to 16 gene variants within each genomic region (<1 Mbp). The Abrus precatorius cultivar sequenced here contains genes which encode for proteins that are homologous to certain abrin and prepropulchellin genes previously identified, and we observed substantial diversity of genes and predicted gene products in Abrus precatorius and previously characterized toxins. This suggests diverse toxin repertoires within Abrus, potentially the results of rapid toxin evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Species Composition and Toxigenic Potential of Fusarium Isolates Causing Fruit Rot of Sweet Pepper in China
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 690; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120690 - 24 Nov 2019
Abstract
Apart from causing serious yield losses, various kinds of mycotoxins may be accumulated in plant tissues infected by Fusarium strains. Fusarium mycotoxin contamination is one of the most important concerns in the food safety field nowadays. However, limited information on the causal agents, [...] Read more.
Apart from causing serious yield losses, various kinds of mycotoxins may be accumulated in plant tissues infected by Fusarium strains. Fusarium mycotoxin contamination is one of the most important concerns in the food safety field nowadays. However, limited information on the causal agents, etiology, and mycotoxin production of this disease is available on pepper in China. This research was conducted to identify the Fusarium species causing pepper fruit rot and analyze their toxigenic potential in China. Forty-two Fusarium strains obtained from diseased pepper from six provinces were identified as F. equiseti (27 strains), F. solani (10 strains), F. fujikuroi (five strains). This is the first report of F. equiseti, F. solani and F. fujikuroi associated with pepper fruit rot in China, which revealed that the population structure of Fusarium species in this study was quite different from those surveyed in other countries, such as Canada and Belgium. The mycotoxin production capabilities were assessed using a well-established liquid chromatography mass spectrometry method. Out of the thirty-six target mycotoxins, fumonisins B1 and B2, fusaric acid, beauvericin, moniliformin, and nivalenol were detected in pepper tissues. Furthermore, some mycotoxins were found in non-colonized parts of sweet pepper fruit, implying migration from colonized to non-colonized parts of pepper tissues, which implied the risk of mycotoxin contamination in non-infected parts of food products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Feed and Food Chain: Present Status and Future Concerns)
Open AccessArticle
Comparative Sequence Analysis of TRI1 of Fusarium
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120689 - 23 Nov 2019
Abstract
Trichothecene mycotoxins are a class of secondary metabolites produced by multiple genera of fungi, including certain plant pathogenic Fusarium species. Functional variation in the TRI1 gene produces a novel Type A trichothecene called NX-2 in strains of F. graminearum. Using a bioinformatics [...] Read more.
Trichothecene mycotoxins are a class of secondary metabolites produced by multiple genera of fungi, including certain plant pathogenic Fusarium species. Functional variation in the TRI1 gene produces a novel Type A trichothecene called NX-2 in strains of F. graminearum. Using a bioinformatics approach, a systematic analysis of 52 translated TRI1 sequences of Fusarium species, including five F. graminearum NX-2 producers and four F. graminearum non-NX-2 producers, was conducted to explain the functional difference of TRI1p of FGNX-2. An assessment of several signature motifs of fungal P450s revealed amino acid substitutions in addition to the post-translational N-X-S/T sequons motif, which is indicative of N-linked glycosylation of this TRI1-encoded protein characteristic of NX-2 producers. There was evidence of selection bias, where TRI1 gene sequences were found to be under positive selection and, therefore, under functional constraints. The cumulative amino acid changes in the TRI1p sequences were reflected in the phylogenetic analyses which revealed species-specific clustering with a distinct separation of FGNX-2 from FG-non-NX-2 producers with high bootstrap support. Together, our findings provide insight into the amino acid sequence features responsible for the functional diversification of this TRI1p. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Botulinum Toxin Injection in Children with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy: Correction of Growth through Comparison of Treated and Unaffected Limbs
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120688 - 23 Nov 2019
Abstract
Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) injections in children with cerebral palsy (CP) may negatively affect muscle growth and strength. We injected BoNT-A into the affected limbs of 14 children (4.57 ± 2.28 years) with hemiplegic CP and exhibiting tip-toeing gait on the affected [...] Read more.
Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) injections in children with cerebral palsy (CP) may negatively affect muscle growth and strength. We injected BoNT-A into the affected limbs of 14 children (4.57 ± 2.28 years) with hemiplegic CP and exhibiting tip-toeing gait on the affected side and investigated the morphological alterations in the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle (GCM). We assessed thickness of the GCM, fascicle length, and fascicle angle on the affected and unaffected sides at baseline at 4 and 12 weeks after BoNT-A injections. The primary outcome measure was the change (percentage) in GCM thickness in the affected side treated with BoNT-A in comparison with the unaffected side. The percentage of treated GCM thickness became significantly thinner at 4 and 12 weeks after BoNT-A injection than baseline. However, the percentage of fascicle length and angle in treated limbs showed no significant change from baseline 4 and 12 weeks after the injection. BoNT-A injections might reduce muscle thickness in children with spastic hemiplegic CP. Fascicle length and angle might not be affected by BoNT-A injections after correction of normal growth of the children. Full article
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