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Neurotoxic effects of the environmentally abundant mycotoxin Ochratoxin A (OTA) were studied in histotypic 3D rat brain cell cultures, comprising all brain cell types. Cultures were exposed to nanomolar OTA concentrations and samples were collected 48h after a single exposure, or after 10 days of repeated administration. OTA-induced changes in gene- and protein expression, as well as alterations in cell morphology were assessed. Forty-eight-hour OTA exposure resulted in a disruption of the neuronal cytoskeleton and reduced expression of several oligodendrocyte-specific markers indicative of demyelination. Astrocyte disturbances were revealed by a decrease in two astrocytic proteins involved in regulation of inflammatory responses, metallothioneins I and II. Repeated OTA administration induced a neuroinflammatory response, as visualized by an increase of isolectin B4 labelled cells, increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and detection of macrophagic ED1/CD68 positive cells, as well as an upregulation of neurodegenerative M1 microglial phenotype markers. Partial recovery from OTA-induced deleterious effects on oligodendrocytes and astrocytes was achieved by co-treatment with sonic hedgehog (SHH). In addition, metallothionein I and II co-treatment partially restored OTA-induced effects on oligodendrocytes after 48h, and modulated microglial reactivity after 10 days. These results suggest that OTA-exposure affects Shh-signalling, which in turn may influence both oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. Furthermore, the primarily astrocytic proteins MTI/MTII may affect microglial activation. Thus the neuroinflammatory response appears to be downstream of OTA-induced effects on demyelination, axonal instabilities and astrocytes disturbances. In conclusion, repeated OTA-exposure induced a secondary neuroinflammatory response characterized by neurodegenerative M1 microglial activation and pro-inflammatory response that could exacerbate the neurodegenerative process. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Jenny Sandström von Tobel, Paola Antinori, Marie-Gabrielle Zurich, Robin Rosset, Michael Aschner, Florent Glück, Alexander Scherl, Florianne Monnet-Tschudi. Repeated exposure to Ochratoxin A generates a neuroinflammatory response, characterized by neurodegenerative M1 microglial phenotype. Neurotoxicology. 2014 Sep;44:61-70

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PMID: 24792326

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