Study assesses potential negative effect of Ochratoxin A on embryonic development

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The study shows that the presence of Ochratoxin A affects survival and decreases the proliferation of human cells in the embryonic phase

Researchers of the Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy of the CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Elche and Valencia (Spain), in collaboration with the Príncipe Felipe research centre and the University of Valencia, have assessed the potential negative effect for embryonic development of a mycotoxin, namely Ochratoxin A, which is in foods such as cereals and derived products.

Their study, the first to use an in vitro human cell line to assess its effects, has been published in a special edition of international scientific journal Toxins. Members of this research team had already assessed the negative effects of this mycotoxin on the neuroregenerative capabilities of the adult brain in previous studies.

Ochratoxin A is a mycotoxin produced by different species of fungi of the Aspergillus and Penicillium genera, which is in common food items in human and animal diets, especially in cereals, but also in coffee, cocoa, beer, grapes and wine, or in the meats of animals who have eaten cereals with this mycotoxin."

María ángeles García Esparza, Professor and Principal Researcher, CEU UCH Pharmacy Department

Until now, a majority of studies on Ochratoxin A had focused on studying its relation with kidney diseases, but very few studies has assessed its effects on embryonic development. "This study is the first to use an in vitro human cell model, which is even more reliable to determine the toxicity in humans than experimental animal models," highlights the CEU UCH professor.

Effects on embryonic development

Members of the research team published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, the toxicity of Ochratoxin A in the neuroregeneration process of the adult brain, assessing its effect on neural cells in experimental animal models. In this new study, an assessment model of the toxicity of Ochratoxin A in a human cell line has been designed, by way of in vitro cultures, to assess their impact in the first phases of embryonic development. "The results confirm that the presence of this mycotoxin affects survival and decreases the proliferation of human cells in the embryonic phase," highlights doctor García Esparza.

"In the study - she adds - we have also observed the negative effects of Ochratoxin A in apoptosis, the process that leads to the destruction of damaged cells, and which is key for the appropriate embryonic development. Furthermore, the presence of this mycotoxin also increases oxidative stress, which affects the viability of cells and produces damage to their DNA." The study, published in Toxins, confirms the results of previous research conducted in experimental animal models in these two dimensions but, as the CEU UCH professor highlights, "this is the first to analyse the effects of Ochratoxin A on an in vitro pre-natal human cell model, showing the severity of the toxic effects described in the early phases of embryonic development."

Research team

The research team was comprised of professors of the Departments of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences of the CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Elche and Valencia, María ángeles García Esparza, José Miguel Soria and Ivan Zipancic, who also has the collaboration of Slaven Ecreg, Francisco Javier Rodríguez and María Amparo Pérez Aragó, from the Príncipe Felipe research centre (CIPF) of Valencia; and Misericordia Jiménez and Eva María Mateo, from Valencia University (UV).

The research relied on funding of the Aids for the Consolidation of Research Indicators project of the Banco Santander-Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera programme, awarded to researchers García Esparza and Soria, and with funding from the Ministry of Economy and Competitivity, awarded to UV researcher Misericordia Jiménez.

The article "Assessment of Toxic Effects of Ochratoxin A in Human Embryonic Stem Cells" has been published in a special edition of journal Toxins, of the first quarter, addressing the toxicological effects of mycotoxins on cells.


Asociación RUVID

Journal reference:

Erceg, S. et al. (2019) Assessment of Toxic Effects of Ochratoxin A in Human Embryonic Stem Cells.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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