Topical Collection "Toxic and Pharmacological Effect of Plant Toxins"

A topical collection in Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This collection belongs to the section "Plant Toxins".

Editor

Prof. Dr. Carmela Fimognari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department for Life Quality Studies, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Corso d’Augusto 237, 47921 Rimini, Italy
Fax: +39 051 2095624
Interests: 1) antitumour pharmacology: identification of natural agents as potential antitumor drugs and definition of their cellular (analysis of apoptosis/necrosis; cell proliferation; cell-cycle progression; cytodifferentiation) and molecular (level of proteins involved in apoptosis and cell-cycle regulation) mechanism; 2) cellular and genetic toxicology: study of the cellular response after treatment with xenobiotics (cytotoxicity; analysis of DNA and RNA damage; fluorescence in situ hybridization)
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Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant toxins are secondary plant metabolites that naturally occur in the marine and terrestrial plants of several families, some of which commonly consumed as food. The chemical diversity is tremendous. Phytotoxins can evoke many different effects on living organisms, functioning as: nutrients, useful for growth and other body processes; inerts, such as fiber; toxicants, chemicals which have an effect on metabolic or physiological processes; or drugs, chemicals useful for the prevention or treatment of many diseases. Many plant toxins possess the characteristic of a “Janus” compound, i.e., they exert both significant toxic and pharmacological effects, depending on the concentrations used in the test systems applied. They can also be modified to improve affinity and efficacy for health endorsement. I hope that this collection of Toxins entitled “Toxic and Pharmacological Effect of Plant Toxins” will provide an outline of different plant toxins, their mechanisms of action, and the relevance of their toxic and/or pharmacological effects for human health.

Prof. Dr. Carmela Fimognari
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • terrestrial phytotoxins
  • marine phytotoxins
  • dietetic phytotoxins
  • non-dietetic phytotoxins
  • toxicological mechanisms
  • pharmacological mechanisms
  • disease prevention
  • disease treatment

Published Papers (12 papers)

2019

Open AccessArticle
Annona cherimola Seed Extract Activates Extrinsic and Intrinsic Apoptotic Pathways in Leukemic Cells
Toxins 2019, 11(9), 506; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11090506 - 30 Aug 2019
Abstract
Annona cherimola Mill is a large green fruit with black seeds widely known to possess toxic properties due to the presence of Annonaceous acetogenins. The present study investigates the anti-cancer properties of an Annona cherimola Mill ethanolic seed extract on Acute Myeloid Leukemia [...] Read more.
Annona cherimola Mill is a large green fruit with black seeds widely known to possess toxic properties due to the presence of Annonaceous acetogenins. The present study investigates the anti-cancer properties of an Annona cherimola Mill ethanolic seed extract on Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) cell lines in vitro and elucidates the underlying cellular mechanism. The anti-proliferative effects of the extract on various AML cell lines and normal mesenchymal cells (MSCs) were assessed using WST-1 viability reagent. The pro-apoptotic effect of the extract was evaluated using Annexin V/PI staining and Cell Death ELISA. The underlying mechanism was deciphered by analyzing the expression of various proteins using western blots. Treatment with an A. cherimola seed ethanolic extract promotes a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of the proliferation of various AML cell lines, but not MSCs. Positive Annexin V staining, as well as DNA fragmentation, confirm an increase in apoptotic cell death by upregulating the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins which control both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways of apoptosis. GC/MS analysis revealed the presence of phytosterols, in addition to other bioactive compounds. In conclusion, Annona cherimola Mill seed extract, previously known to possess a potent toxic activity, induces apoptosis in AML cell lines by the activation of both the extrinsic and the intrinsic pathways. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fusarubin and Anhydrofusarubin Isolated from A Cladosporium Species Inhibit Cell Growth in Human Cancer Cell Lines
Toxins 2019, 11(9), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11090503 - 29 Aug 2019
Abstract
Cladosporium species are endophytic fungi that grow on organic matter and are considered food contaminants. The anti-microbial and anti-tumor naphthoquinones fusarubin (FUS) and anhydrofusarubin (AFU) were isolated using column chromatography from a Cladosporium species residing inside Rauwolfia leaves. The impact of FUS and [...] Read more.
Cladosporium species are endophytic fungi that grow on organic matter and are considered food contaminants. The anti-microbial and anti-tumor naphthoquinones fusarubin (FUS) and anhydrofusarubin (AFU) were isolated using column chromatography from a Cladosporium species residing inside Rauwolfia leaves. The impact of FUS and AFU on cell growth was assessed in acute myeloid leukemia (OCI-AML3) and other hematologic tumor cell lines (HL-60, U937, and Jurkat). Treatment with FUS or AFU reduced the number of OCI-AML3 cells as evaluated by a hemocytometer. Flow cytometry analyses showed that this effect was accompanied by diverse impairments in cell cycle progression. Specifically, FUS (20 or 10 μg/mL significantly decreased the percentage of cells in S phase and increased the percentage of cells in G2/M phase, whereas AFU increased the percentage of cells in G0/G1 phase (50 and 25 μg/mL) and decreased the percentage of cells in S (50 μg/mL) and G2/M (50 and 25 μg/mL) phases. Both substances significantly increased apoptosis at higher concentrations. The effects of FUS were more potent than those of AFU, with FUS up-regulating p21 expression in a p53-dependent manner, as detected by Western blot analyses, likely the consequence of decreased ERK phosphorylation and increased p38 expression (both of which increase p21 stability). FUS also decreased Akt phosphorylation and resulted in increased Fas ligand production and caspase-8/3-dependent apoptosis. These results suggest that FUS and AFU inhibit proliferation and increase apoptosis in cell lines derived from hematological cancers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Probable Fatal Case of Oleander (Nerium oleander) Poisoning on a Cattle Farm: A New Method of Detection and Quantification of the Oleandrin Toxin in Rumen
Toxins 2019, 11(8), 442; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11080442 - 25 Jul 2019
Abstract
Oleander (Nerium oleander) is an ornamental plant common in tropical and sub-tropical regions that is becoming increasingly widespread, even in temperate regions. Oleander poisoning may occur in animals and humans. The main active components contained in the plant are cardiac glycosides [...] Read more.
Oleander (Nerium oleander) is an ornamental plant common in tropical and sub-tropical regions that is becoming increasingly widespread, even in temperate regions. Oleander poisoning may occur in animals and humans. The main active components contained in the plant are cardiac glycosides belonging to the class of cardenolides that are toxic to many species, from human to insects. This work describes a case of oleander poisoning that occurred on a small cattle farm and resulted in the fatality of all six resident animals. Furthermore, the investigation of the poisonous agent is described, with particular focus on the characterization of the oleandrin toxin that was recovered from the forage and rumen contents. The innovation of this study is the first description of the detection and quantification of the oleandrin toxin by liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) in rumen. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Garcinol A Novel Inhibitor of Platelet Activation and Apoptosis
Toxins 2019, 11(7), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11070382 - 01 Jul 2019
Abstract
Garcinol, an anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic polyisoprenylated benzophenone isolated from Garcinia plants, stimulates tumor cell apoptosis and suicidal erythrocyte death, but supports the survival of hepatocytes and neurons. The present study explored whether the substance influences platelet function and/or apoptosis. To this end, we [...] Read more.
Garcinol, an anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic polyisoprenylated benzophenone isolated from Garcinia plants, stimulates tumor cell apoptosis and suicidal erythrocyte death, but supports the survival of hepatocytes and neurons. The present study explored whether the substance influences platelet function and/or apoptosis. To this end, we exposed murine blood platelets to garcinol (33 µM, 30 min) without and with activation by collagen-related peptide (CRP) (2–5 µg/mL) or thrombin (0.01 U/mL); flow cytometry was employed to estimate cytosolic Ca2+-activity ([Ca2+]i) from Fluo-3 fluorescence, platelet degranulation from P-selectin abundance, integrin activation from αIIbβ3 integrin abundance, caspase activity utilizing an Active Caspase-3 Staining kit, phosphatidylserine abundance from annexin-V-binding, relative platelet volume from forward scatter, and aggregation utilizing staining with CD9-APC and CD9-PE. As a result, in the absence of CRP and thrombin, the exposure of the platelets to garcinol did not significantly modify [Ca2+]i, P-selectin abundance, activated αIIbβ3 integrin, annexin-V-binding, cell volume, caspase activity, and aggregation. Exposure of platelets to CRP or thrombin was followed by a significant increase of [Ca2+]i, P-selectin abundance, αIIbβ3 integrin activity, annexin-V-binding, caspase activity, and aggregation, as well as significant cell shrinkage. All effects of CRP were strong and significant; those of thrombin were only partially and slightly blunted in the presence of garcinol. In conclusion, garcinol blunts CRP-induced platelet activity, apoptosis and aggregation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Intramuscular Ricin Poisoning of Mice Leads to Widespread Damage in the Heart, Spleen, and Bone Marrow
Toxins 2019, 11(6), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11060344 - 16 Jun 2019
Abstract
Ricin, a lethal toxin derived from castor oil beans, is a potential bio-threat due to its high availability and simplicity of preparation. Ricin is prepared according to simple recipes available on the internet, and was recently considered in terrorist, suicide, or homicide attempts [...] Read more.
Ricin, a lethal toxin derived from castor oil beans, is a potential bio-threat due to its high availability and simplicity of preparation. Ricin is prepared according to simple recipes available on the internet, and was recently considered in terrorist, suicide, or homicide attempts involving the parenteral route of exposure. In-depth study of the morbidity developing from parenteral ricin poisoning is mandatory for tailoring appropriate therapeutic measures to mitigate ricin toxicity in such instances. The present study applies various biochemical, hematological, histopathological, molecular, and functional approaches to broadly investigate the systemic effects of parenteral intoxication by a lethal dose of ricin in a murine model. Along with prompt coagulopathy, multi-organ hemorrhages, and thrombocytopenia, ricin induced profound morpho-pathological and functional damage in the spleen, bone marrow, and cardiovascular system. In the heart, diffuse hemorrhages, myocyte necrosis, collagen deposition, and induction in fibrinogen were observed. Severe functional impairment was manifested by marked thickening of the left ventricular wall, decreased ventricular volume, and a significant reduction in stroke volume and cardiac output. Unexpectedly, the differential severity of the ricin-induced damage did not correlate with the respective ricin-dependent catalytic activity measured in the various organs. These findings emphasize the complexity of ricin toxicity and stress the importance of developing novel therapeutic strategies that will combine not only anti-ricin specific therapy, but also will target ricin-induced indirect disturbances. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Xanthium strumarium Fruit Extract Inhibits ATG4B and Diminishes the Proliferation and Metastatic Characteristics of Colorectal Cancer Cells
Toxins 2019, 11(6), 313; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11060313 - 02 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved pathway to degrade damaged proteins and organelles for subsequent recycling in cells during times of nutrient deprivation. This process plays an important role in tumor development and progression, allowing cancer cells to survive in nutrient-poor environments. The plant [...] Read more.
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved pathway to degrade damaged proteins and organelles for subsequent recycling in cells during times of nutrient deprivation. This process plays an important role in tumor development and progression, allowing cancer cells to survive in nutrient-poor environments. The plant kingdom provides a powerful source for new drug development to treat cancer. Several plant extracts induce autophagy in cancer cells. However, little is known about the role of plant extracts in autophagy inhibition, particularly autophagy-related (ATG) proteins. In this study, we employed S-tagged gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor associated protein like 2 (GABARAPL2) as a reporter to screen 48 plant extracts for their effects on the activity of autophagy protease ATG4B. Xanthium strumarium and Tribulus terrestris fruit extracts were validated as potential ATG4B inhibitors by another reporter substrate MAP1LC3B-PLA2. The inhibitory effects of the extracts on cellular ATG4B and autophagic flux were further confirmed. Moreover, the plant extracts significantly reduced colorectal cancer cell viability and sensitized cancer cells to starvation conditions. The fruit extract of X. strumarium consistently diminished cancer cell migration and invasion. Taken together, the results showed that the fruit of X. strumarium may have an active ingredient to inhibit ATG4B and suppress the proliferation and metastatic characteristics of colorectal cancer cells. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Epoxyscillirosidine Induced Cytotoxicity and Ultrastructural Changes in a Rat Embryonic Cardiomyocyte (H9c2) Cell Line
Toxins 2019, 11(5), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11050284 - 21 May 2019
Abstract
Moraea pallida Bak. (yellow tulp) poisoning is the most important cardiac glycoside-induced intoxication in ruminants in South Africa. The toxic principle, 1α, 2α-epoxyscillirosidine, is a bufadienolide. To replace the use of sentient animals in toxicity testing, the aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
Moraea pallida Bak. (yellow tulp) poisoning is the most important cardiac glycoside-induced intoxication in ruminants in South Africa. The toxic principle, 1α, 2α-epoxyscillirosidine, is a bufadienolide. To replace the use of sentient animals in toxicity testing, the aim of this study was to evaluate the cytotoxic effects of epoxyscillirosidine on rat embryonic cardiomyocytes (H9c2 cell line). This in vitro cell model can then be used in future toxin neutralization or toxico-therapy studies. Cell viability, evaluated with the methyl blue thiazol tetrazolium (MTT) assay, indicated a hormetic dose/concentration response, characterized by a biphasic low dose stimulation and high dose inhibition. Increased cell membrane permeability and leakage, as expected with necrotic cells, were demonstrated with the lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assay. The LC50 was 382.68, 132.28 and 289.23 μM for 24, 48, and 72 h respectively. Numerous cytoplasmic vacuoles, karyolysis and damage to the cell membrane, indicative of necrosis, were observed at higher doses. Ultra-structural changes suggested that the cause of H9c2 cell death, subsequent to epoxyscillirosidine exposure, is necrosis, which is consistent with myocardial necrosis observed at necropsy. Based on the toxicity observed, and supported by ultra-structural findings, the H9c2 cell line could be a suitable in vitro model to evaluate epoxyscillirosidine neutralization or other therapeutic interventions in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Whole-Cell Multiparameter Assay for Ricin and Abrin Activity-Based Digital Holographic Microscopy
Toxins 2019, 11(3), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11030174 - 22 Mar 2019
Abstract
Ricin and abrin are ribosome-inactivating proteins leading to inhibition of protein synthesis and cell death. These toxins are considered some of the most potent and lethal toxins against which there is no available antidote. Digital holographic microscopy (DHM) is a time-lapse, label-free, and [...] Read more.
Ricin and abrin are ribosome-inactivating proteins leading to inhibition of protein synthesis and cell death. These toxins are considered some of the most potent and lethal toxins against which there is no available antidote. Digital holographic microscopy (DHM) is a time-lapse, label-free, and noninvasive imaging technique that can provide phase information on morphological features of cells. In this study, we employed DHM to evaluate the morphological changes of cell lines during ricin and abrin intoxication. We showed that the effect of these toxins is characterized by a decrease in cell confluence and changes in morphological parameters such as cell area, perimeter, irregularity, and roughness. In addition, changes in optical parameters such as phase-shift, optical thickness, and effective-calculated volume were observed. These effects were completely inhibited by specific neutralizing antibodies. An enhanced intoxication effect was observed for preadherent compared to adherent cells, as was detected in early morphology changes and confirmed by annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) apoptosis assay. Detection of the dynamic changes in cell morphology at initial stages of cell intoxication by DHM emphasizes the highly sensitive and rapid nature of this method, allowing the early detection of active toxins. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of the Liver Toxicity of Pterocephalus hookeri Extract via Triggering Necrosis
Toxins 2019, 11(3), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11030142 - 02 Mar 2019
Abstract
Pterocephalus hookeri (C. B. Clarke) Höeck, recorded in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia (2015 version) as a Tibetan medicine for the treatment of various diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis, was believed to possess a slight toxicity. However, hardly any research has been carried out about it. [...] Read more.
Pterocephalus hookeri (C. B. Clarke) Höeck, recorded in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia (2015 version) as a Tibetan medicine for the treatment of various diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis, was believed to possess a slight toxicity. However, hardly any research has been carried out about it. The present study aimed to evaluate the toxicity in vivo and in vitro. Toxicity was observed by the evaluation of mice weight loss and histopathological changes in the liver. Then, the comparison research between ethyl acetate extract (EAE) and n-butanol extract (BUE) suggested that liver toxicity was mainly induced by BUE. The mechanical study suggested that BUE-induced liver toxicity was closely associated with necrosis detected by MTT and propidium iodide (PI) staining, via releasing lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), reducing the fluidity, and increasing the permeability of the cell membrane. Western blot analysis confirmed that the necrosis occurred molecularly by the up-regulation of receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIP1) and receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIP3), as well as the activation of the nuclear factor-kappa-gene binding (NF-κB) signaling pathway in vivo and in vitro. This finding indicated that the liver toxicity induced by BUE from P. hookeri was mainly caused by necrosis, which provides an important theoretical support for further evaluation of the safety of this folk medicine. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
The Inhibitory Effect of Celangulin V on the ATP Hydrolytic Activity of the Complex of V-ATPase Subunits A and B in the Midgut of Mythimna separata
Toxins 2019, 11(2), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11020130 - 22 Feb 2019
Abstract
Celangulin V (CV) is a compound isolated from Celastrus angulatus Max that has a toxic activity against agricultural insect pests. CV can bind to subunits a, H, and B of the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) in the midgut epithelial cells of insects. However, the [...] Read more.
Celangulin V (CV) is a compound isolated from Celastrus angulatus Max that has a toxic activity against agricultural insect pests. CV can bind to subunits a, H, and B of the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) in the midgut epithelial cells of insects. However, the mechanism of action of CV is still unclear. In this study, the soluble complex of the V-ATPase A subunit mutant TSCA which avoids the feedback inhibition by the hydrolysate ADP and V-ATPase B subunit were obtained and then purified using affinity chromatography. The H+K+-ATPase activity of the complex and the inhibitory activity of CV on ATP hydrolysis were determined. The results suggest that CV inhibits the ATP hydrolysis, resulting in an insecticidal effect. Additionally, the homology modeling of the AB complex and molecular docking results indicate that CV can competitively bind to the AB complex at the ATP binding site, which inhibits ATP hydrolysis. These findings suggest that the AB subunits complex is one of the potential targets for CV and is important for understanding the mechanism of interaction between CV and V-ATPase. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Augmentation of Saporin-Based Immunotoxins for Human Leukaemia and Lymphoma Cells by Triterpenoid Saponins: The Modifying Effects of Small Molecule Pharmacological Agents
Toxins 2019, 11(2), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11020127 - 20 Feb 2019
Abstract
Triterpenoid saponins from Saponinum album (SA) significantly augment the cytotoxicity of saporin-based immunotoxins but the mechanism of augmentation is not fully understood. We investigated the effects of six small molecule pharmacological agents, which interfere with endocytic and other processes, on SA-mediated augmentation of [...] Read more.
Triterpenoid saponins from Saponinum album (SA) significantly augment the cytotoxicity of saporin-based immunotoxins but the mechanism of augmentation is not fully understood. We investigated the effects of six small molecule pharmacological agents, which interfere with endocytic and other processes, on SA-mediated augmentation of saporin and saporin-based immunotoxins (ITs) directed against CD7, CD19, CD22 and CD38 on human lymphoma and leukaemia cell lines. Inhibition of clathrin-mediated endocytosis or endosomal acidification abolished the SA augmentation of saporin and of all four immunotoxins tested but the cytotoxicity of each IT or saporin alone was largely unaffected. The data support the hypothesis that endocytic processes are involved in the augmentative action of SA for saporin ITs targeted against a range of antigens expressed by leukaemia and lymphoma cells. In addition, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger tiron reduced the cytotoxicity of BU12-SAP and OKT10-SAP but had no effect on 4KB128-SAP or saporin cytotoxicity. Tiron also had no effect on SA-mediated augmentation of the saporin-based ITs or unconjugated saporin. These results suggest that ROS are not involved in the augmentation of saporin ITs and that ROS induction is target antigen-dependent and not directly due to the cytotoxic action of the toxin moiety. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
In Vitro Cytotoxicity Induced by the Bufadienolides 1α,2α-Epoxyscillirosidine and Lanceotoxin B on Rat Myocardial and Mouse Neuroblastoma Cell Lines
Toxins 2019, 11(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11010014 - 02 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Consumption of bufadienolide-containing plants are responsible for many livestock mortalities annually. Bufadienolides are divided into two groups; non-cumulative bufadienolides and cumulative bufadienolides. Cumulative bufadienolides are referred to as neurotoxic, as the chronic intoxication with this type of bufadienolide results in a paretic/paralytic syndrome [...] Read more.
Consumption of bufadienolide-containing plants are responsible for many livestock mortalities annually. Bufadienolides are divided into two groups; non-cumulative bufadienolides and cumulative bufadienolides. Cumulative bufadienolides are referred to as neurotoxic, as the chronic intoxication with this type of bufadienolide results in a paretic/paralytic syndrome known as ‘krimpsiekte’. The in vitro cytotoxicity of a non-cumulative bufadienolide, 1α,2α-epoxyscillirosidine, and a cumulative bufadienolide, lanceotoxin B, were compared using the MTT ((3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide reduction) assay after exposing rat myocardial (H9c2) and mouse neuroblastoma (Neuro-2a) cell lines. The effect of these two bufadienolides on cell ultrastructure was also investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). H9c2 cells exhibited greater cytotoxicity when exposed to 1α,2α-epoxyscillirosidine, compared to lanceotoxin B. In contrast, Neuro-2a cells were more susceptible to lanceotoxin B. The EC50 (half maximal effective concentration) of lanceotoxin B exposure of Neuro-2a cells for 24–72 h ranged from 4.4–5.5 µM compared to EC50s of 35.7–37.6 µM for 1α,2α-epoxyscillirosidine exposure of Neuro-2a cells over the same period. 1α,2α-Epoxyscillirosidine induced extensive vacuolization in both cell types, with swollen RER (rough endoplasmic reticulum) and perinuclear spaces. Lanceotoxin B caused swelling of the mitochondria and sequestration of cytoplasmic material within autophagic vesicles. These results corroborate the notion that cumulative bufadienolides are neurotoxic. Full article
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