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1.  Mthfr gene ablation enhances susceptibility to arsenic prenatal toxicity 
In utero exposure to arsenic is known to adversely affect reproductive outcomes. Evidence of arsenic teratogenicity vary widely and depend on individual genotypic differences in sensitivity to As. In this study, we investigated the potential interaction between 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (Mthfr) genotype and arsenic embryotoxicity using the Mthfr knockout mouse model.
Pregnant dams were treated with sodium arsenate, and reproductive outcomes including: implantation, resorption, congenital malformation and fetal birth weight were recorded at E18.5.
When the dams in Mthfr+/− x Mthfr+/− matings were treated with 7.2mg/kg As, the resorption rate increased to 43.4%, from a background frequency of 7.2%. The As treatment also induced external malformations (40.9%) and significantly lowered the average fetal birth weight among fetuses, without any obvious toxic effect on the dam. When comparing the pregnancy outcomes resulting from different mating scenarios (Mthfr+/+ x Mthfr+/−, Mthfr+/− x Mthfr+/− and Mthfr−/− x Mthfr+/−) and arsenic exposure; the resorption rate showed a linear relationship with the number of null alleles (0, 1 or 2) in the Mthfr dams. Fetuses from nullizygous dams had the highest rate of external malformations (43%) and lowest average birth weight. When comparing the outcomes of reciprocal matings (nullizygote x wild-type versus wild-type x nullizygote) after As treatment, the null dams showed significantly higher rates of resorptions and malformations, along with lower fetal birth weights.
Maternal genotype contributes to the sensitivity of As embryotoxicity in the Mthfr mouse model. The fetal genotype, however, does not appear to affect the reproductive outcome after in utero As exposure.
PMCID: PMC3943866  PMID: 24384392
Sodium arsenate; 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR); Mthfr knockout mice; embryotoxicity; gene-environment interaction; teratogenicity
2.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3916905  PMID: 24342266
3.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3919493  PMID: 24355420
4.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3939778  PMID: 24345528
5.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3970846  PMID: 24361551
6.  Arsenite binding-induced zinc loss from PARP-1 is equivalent to zinc deficiency in reducing PARP-1 activity, leading to inhibition of DNA repair 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(2):313-318.
Inhibition of DNA repair is a recognized mechanism for arsenic enhancement of ultraviolet radiation-induced DNA damage and carcinogenesis. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), a zinc finger DNA repair protein, has been identified as a sensitive molecular target for arsenic. The zinc finger domains of PARP-1 protein function as a critical structure in DNA recognition and binding. Since cellular poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation capacity has been positively correlated with zinc status in cells, we hypothesize that arsenite binding-induced zinc loss from PARP-1 is equivalent to zinc deficiency in reducing PARP-1 activity, leading to inhibition of DNA repair. To test this hypothesis, we compared the effects of arsenite exposure with zinc deficiency, created by using the membrane-permeable zinc chelator TPEN, on 8-OHdG formation, PARP-1 activity and zinc binding to PARP-1 in HaCat cells. Our results show that arsenite exposure and zinc deficiency had similar effects on PARP-1 protein, whereas supplemental zinc reversed these effects. To investigate the molecular mechanism of zinc loss induced by arsenite, ICP-AES, near UV spectroscopy, fluorescence, and circular dichroism spectroscopy were utilized to examine arsenite binding and occupation of a peptide representing the first zinc finger of PARP-1. We found that arsenite binding as well as zinc loss altered the conformation of zinc finger structure which functionally leads to PARP-1 inhibition. These findings suggest that arsenite binding to PARP-1 protein created similar adverse biological effects as zinc deficiency, which establishes the molecular mechanism for zinc supplementation as a potentially effective treatment to reverse the detrimental outcomes of arsenic exposure.
PMCID: PMC3891920  PMID: 24275069
zinc deficiency; arsenite; PARP-1; DNA damage repair; zinc finger
7.  Involvement of Reactive Oxygen Species in Brominated Diphenyl Ether-47-induced Inflammatory Cytokine Release from Human Extravillous Trophoblasts in vitro 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(2):283-292.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used flame retardant compounds. Brominated diphenyl ether (BDE)-47 is one of the most prevalent PBDE congeners found in human breast milk, serum and placenta. Despite the presence of PBDEs in human placenta, effects of PBDEs on placental cell function are poorly understood. The present study investigated BDE-47-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and its role in BDE-47-stimulated proinflammatory cytokine release in a first trimester human extravillous trophoblast cell line, HTR-8/SVneo. Exposure of HTR-8/SVneo cells for 4 h to 20 μM BDE-47 increased ROS generation 1.7 fold as measured by the dichlorofluorescein (DCF) assay. Likewise, superoxide anion production increased approximately 5 fold at 10 and 15 μM and 9 fold at 20 μM BDE-47 with a 1-h exposure, as measured by cytochrome c reduction. BDE-47 (10, 15 and 20 μM) decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential by 47–64.5% at 4, 8 and 24 h as assessed with the fluorescent probe Rh123. Treatment with 15 and 20 μM BDE-47 stimulated cellular release and mRNA expression of IL-6 and IL-8 after 12 and 24 h exposures: the greatest increases were a 35-fold increased mRNA expression at 12 h and a 12-fold increased protein concentration at 24 h for IL-6. Antioxidant treatments (deferoxamine mesylate, (±)α-tocopherol, or tempol) suppressed BDE-47-stimulated IL-6 release by 54.1%, 56.3% and 37.7%, respectively, implicating a role for ROS in regulation of inflammatory pathways in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Solvent (DMSO) controls exhibited statistically significantly decreased responses compared with non-treated controls for IL-6 release and IL-8 mRNA expression, but these responses were not consistent across experiments and times. Nonetheless, it is possible that DMSO (used to dissolve BDE-47) may have attenuated the stimulatory actions of BDE-47 on cytokine responses. Because abnormal activation of proinflammatory responses can disrupt trophoblast functions necessary for placental development and successful pregnancy, further investigation is warranted of the impact of ROS and BDE-47 on trophoblast cytokine responses.
PMCID: PMC3931445  PMID: 24296301
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); reactive oxygen species; oxidative stress; HTR-8/SVneo cells; human placental cells; cytokines
8.  Impact of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene exposure on connexin gap junction proteins in cultured rat ovaries 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(2):209-214.
7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) destroys ovarian follicles in a concentration-dependent manner. The impact of DMBA on connexin (CX) proteins that mediate communication between follicular cell types along with pro-apoptotic factors p53 and Bax were investigated. Postnatal day (PND) 4 Fisher 344 rat ovaries were cultured for 4 days in vehicle medium (1% DMSO) followed by a single exposure to vehicle control (1% DMSO) or DMBA (12.5 nM or 75 nM) and cultured for 4 or 8 days. RT-PCR was performed to quantify Cx37, Cx43, p53 and Bax mRNA level. Western blotting and immunofluorescence staining were performed to determine CX37 or CX43 level and/or localization. Cx37 mRNA and protein increased (P < 0.05) at 4 days of 12.5 nM DMBA exposure. Relative to vehicle control-treated ovaries, mRNA encoding Cx43 decreased (P < 0.05) but CX43 protein increased (P < 0.05) at 4 days by both DMBA exposures. mRNA expression of pro-apoptotic p53 was decreased (P < 0.05) but no changes in Bax expression were observed after 4 days of DMBA exposures. In contrast, after 8 days, DMBA decreased Cx37 and Cx43 mRNA and protein but increased both p53 and Bax mRNA levels. CX43 protein was located between granulosa cells, while CX37 was located at the oocyte cell surface of all follicle stages. These findings support that DMBA exposure impacts ovarian Cx37 and Cx43 mRNA and protein prior to both observed changes in pro-apoptotic p53 and Bax and follicle loss. It is possible that such interference in follicular cell communication is detrimental to follicle viability, and may play a role in DMBA-induced follicular atresia.
PMCID: PMC3932824  PMID: 24269759
Ovary; DMBA; Ovotoxicity; Connexins; Gap Junctions; Follicle
9.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4295120  PMID: 25034532
10.  Role of oxidative stress in cadmium toxicity and carcinogenesis 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2009;238(3):209-214.
Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic metal, targeting the lung, liver, kidney, and testes following acute intoxication, and causing nephrotoxicity, immunotoxicity, osteotoxicity and tumors after prolonged exposures. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are often implicated in Cd toxicology. This minireview focused on direct evidence for the generation of free radicals in intact animals following acute Cd overload and discussed the association of ROS in chronic Cd toxicity and carcinogenesis. Cd-generated superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals in vivo have been detected by the electron spin resonance spectra, which are often accompanied by activation of redox sensitive transcription factors (e.g., NF-κB, AP-1 and Nrf2) and alteration of ROS-related gene expression. It is generally agreed upon that oxidative stress plays important roles in acute Cd poisoning. However, following long-term Cd exposure at environmentally-relevant low levels, direct evidence for oxidative stress is often obscure. Alterations in ROS-related gene expression during chronic exposures are also less significant compared to acute Cd poisoning. This is probably due to induced adaption mechanisms (e.g, metallothionein and glutathione) following chronic Cd exposures, which in turn diminish Cd-induced oxidative stress. In chronic Cd-transformed cells, less ROS signals are detected with fluorescence probes. Acquired apoptotic tolerance renders damaged cells to proliferate with inherent oxidative DNA lesions, potentially leading to tumorigenesis. Thus, ROS are generated following acute Cd overload and plays important roles in tissue damage. Adaptation to chronic Cd exposure reduces ROS production, but acquired Cd tolerance with aberrant gene expression plays important roles in chronic Cd toxicity and carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4287357  PMID: 19236887
Cadmium; reactive oxygen species; spin-trapping technique; chronic toxicity; adaptation; malignant transformation
11.  CYP2E1-Dependent and Leptin-Mediated Hepatic CD57 Expression on CD8+ve T Cells aid Progression of Environment-Linked Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(1):10.1016/j.taap.2013.10.029.
Environmental toxins induce a novel CYP2E1/leptin signaling axis in liver. This in turn activates a poorly characterized innate immune response that contributes to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) progression. To identify the relevant subsets of T-lymphocytes in CYP2E1-dependent, environment-linked NASH, we utilized a model of diet induced obese (DIO) mice that are chronically exposed to bromodichloromethane. Mice deficient in CYP2E1, leptin (ob/ob mice), or both T and B cells (Pfp/Rag2 double knockout (KO) mice) were used to delineate the role of each of these factors in metabolic oxidative stress-induced T cell activation. Results revealed that elevated levels of lipid peroxidation, tyrosyl radical formation, mitochondrial tyrosine nitration and hepatic leptin as a consequence of metabolic oxidative stress caused increased levels of hepatic CD57, a marker of peripheral blood lymphocytes including NKT cells. CD8+CD57+ cytotoxic T cells but not CD4+CD57+ cells were significantly decreased in mice lacking CYP2E1 and leptin. There was a significant increase in the levels of T cell cytokines IL-2, IL-1β, IFN-γ in bromodichloromethane exposed DIO mice but not in mice that lacked CYP2E1, leptin or T and B cells. Apoptosis as evidenced by TUNEL assay and levels of cleaved caspase-3 was significantly lower in leptin and Pfp/Rag2 KO mice and highly correlated with protection from NASH. The results described above suggest that higher levels of oxidative stress-induced leptin mediated CD8+CD57+ T cells play an important role in the development of NASH. It also provides a novel insight of immune dysregulation and may be a key biomarker in NASH.
PMCID: PMC3874401  PMID: 24211274
bromodichloromethane; lipid peroxidation; fibrosis; apoptosis; CD3; P53; caspase-3; TUNEL; IL-2; OB/OB mice
12.  Natural indoles, indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolymethane, inhibit T cell activation by Staphylococcal Entertoxin B through epigenetic regulation involving HDAC expression 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(1):10.1016/j.taap.2013.10.022.
Staphylococcal entertoxin B (SEB) is a potent exotoxin produced by the Staphylococcus aureus. This toxin is classified as a superantigen because of its ability to directly bind with MHC II class molecules followed by activation of a large proportion of T cells bearing specific Vβ-T cell receptors. Commonly associated with classic food poisoning, SEB has also been shown to induce toxic shock syndrome, and is also considered to be a potential biological warfare agent because it is easily aerosolized. In the present study, we assessed the ability of indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and one of its byproducts, 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM), found in cruciferous vegetables, to counteract the effects of SEB-induced activation of T cells in mice. Both I3C and DIM were found to decrease the activation, proliferation, and cytokine production by SEB-activated Vβ8+ T cells in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, inhibitors of histone deacetylase class I (HDAC-I), but not class II (HDAC-II), showed significant decrease in SEB-induced T cell activation and cytokine production, thereby suggesting that epigenetic modulation plays a critical role in the regulation of SEB-induced inflammation. In addition, I3C and DIM caused a decrease in HDAC-I but not HDAC-II in SEB-activated T cells, thereby suggesting that I3C and DIM may inhibit SEB-mediated T cell activation by acting as HDAC-I inhibitors. These studies not only suggest for the first time that plant-derived indoles are potent suppressors of SEB-induced T cell activation and cytokine storm but also that they may mediate these effects by acting as HDAC inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3874587  PMID: 24200994
staphylococcal enterotoxin B; indole-3-carbinol; 3,3′-diindolylmethane; histone deacetylase; epigenetic regulation; inflammation
13.  Analysis of Changes in Hepatic Gene Expression in a Murine Model of Tolerance to Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity (Autoprotection) 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;274(1):156-167.
Pretreatment of mice with a low hepatotoxic dose of acetaminophen (APAP) results in resistance to a subsequent, higher dose of APAP. This mouse model, termed APAP autoprotection was used here to identify differentially expressed genes and cellular pathways that could contribute to this development of resistance to hepatotoxicity. Male C57BL/6J mice were pretreated with APAP (400 mg/kg) and then challenged 48 hr later with 600 mg APAP/kg. Livers were obtained 4 or 24 hr later and total hepatic RNA was isolated and hybridized to Affymetrix Mouse Genome MU430_2 GeneChip. Statistically significant genes were determined and gene expression changes were also interrogated using the Causal Reasoning Engine (CRE). Extensive literature review narrowed our focus to methionine adenosyl transferase-1 alpha (MAT1A), nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), flavin-containing monooxygenase 3 (Fmo3) and galectin-3 (Lgals3). Down-regulation of MAT1A could lead to decreases in S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is known to protect against APAP toxicity. Nrf2 activation is expected to play a role in protective adaptation. Up-regulation of Lgals3, one of the genes supporting the Nrf2 hypothesis, can lead to suppression of apoptosis and reduced mitochondrial dysfunction. Fmo3 induction suggests the involvement of an enzyme not known to metabolize APAP in the development of tolerance to APAP toxicity. Subsequent quantitative RT-PCR and immunochemical analysis confirmed the differential expression of some of these genes in the APAP autoprotection model. In conclusion, our genomics strategy identified cellular pathways that might further explain the molecular basis for APAP autoprotection.
PMCID: PMC3901410  PMID: 24126418
acetaminophen; liver; autoprotection; gene array; hepatotoxicity
14.  Plasma microRNAs are sensitive indicators of inter-strain differences in the severity of liver injury induced in mice by a choline- and folate-deficient diet 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, conserved, tissue-specific regulatory non-coding RNAs that modulate a variety of biological processes and play a fundamental role in pathogenesis of major human diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, the association between inter-individual differences in susceptibility to NAFLD and altered miRNA expression is largely unknown. In view of this, the goals of the present study were (i) to determine whether or not individual differences in the extent of NAFLD-induced liver injury are associated with altered miRNA expression, and (ii) assess if circulating blood miRNAs may be used as potential biomarkers for the noninvasive evaluation of the severity of NAFLD. A panel of seven genetically diverse strains of inbred male mice (A/J, C57BL/6J, C3H/HeJ, 129S/SvImJ, CAST/EiJ, PWK/PhJ, and WSB/EiJ) were fed a choline- and folate-deficient (CFD) diet for 12 weeks. This diet induced liver injury in all mouse strains; however, the extent of NAFLD-associated pathomorphological changes in the livers was strain-specific, with A/J, C57BL/6J, and C3H/HeJ mice being the least sensitive and WSB/EiJ mice being the most sensitive. The morphological changes in the livers were accompanied by differences in the levels of hepatic and plasma miRNAs. The levels of circulating miR-34a, miR-122, miR-181a, miR-192, and miR-200b miRNAs were significantly correlated with a severity of NAFLD-specific liver pathomorphological features, with the strongest correlation occurring with miR-34a. These observations suggest that the plasma levels of miRNAs may be used as biomarkers for noninvasive monitoring the extent of NAFLD-associated liver injury and susceptibility to NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC4281090  PMID: 22561871
Inter-individual differences; microRNAs; mouse; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
15.  Low Dose Synergistic Immunosuppression of T-Dependent Antibody Responses by Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Arsenic in C57BL/6J Mice Spleen Cells 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2010;245(3):344-351.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic are both environmental agents that are known to have significant immunotoxicity. Previous studies have shown that PAH exposure of spleen cells in vitro produces significant immune suppression of humoral immunity, especially when P450 activation products are examined. Exposure to arsenic, particularly sodium arsenite, has also been found to be suppressive to antibody responses in vitro and in vivo. The purpose of the present studies was to examine the immunotoxicity of PAHs and arsenite following co-exposures with the theory being that the agents may exert synergistic actions which might be based on their different mechanisms of action. Spleen cells were isolated from male C57BL/6J wild-type mice and treated with PAHs and/or arsenic (arsenite or arsenate). Immunotoxicity assays were used to assess the T-dependent antibody response (TDAR) to sheep red blood cells (SRBC), measured by a direct plaque forming cell (PFC) assay. Cell viability was measured by trypan blue staining. Spleen cell viability was not altered following four days of PAH and/or arsenic treatment. However, the TDAR response demonstrated suppression by both PAHs or arsenic in a concentration-dependent manner. p53 was also induced by NaAsO2 (As+3) and PAHs alone or in combination. The PAHs and their metabolites investigated included benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), BaP-7,8-diol, BaP-7,8-diol-9,10-epoxide (BPDE), 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), DMBA-3,4-diol, dibenzo[a,l]pyrene (DB[a,l]P). PAH metabolites were found to be more potent than parent compounds in producing immunosuppression and inducing p53 expression. Interestingly, DB[a,l]P, a potent carcinogenic PAH not previously characterized for immunotoxicity, was also found to be strongly immunosuppressive. Arsenite (NaAsO2, As+3) was found to produce immunosuppression at concentrations as low as 0.5 µM and was immunosuppressive at a 10-fold lower concentration than sodium arsenate (Na2HAsO4, As+5). Co-exposure of spleen cell cultures to PAHs and As+3, both at individual low-effect concentrations, was found to produce profound suppression of the TDAR demonstrating synergy between these two chemical classes of agents.
PMCID: PMC4271546  PMID: 20353797
immunotoxicity; PAHs; arsenic; synergy; TDAR
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.010.
Acetaminophen (APAP) hepatotoxicity is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US. Although many aspects of the mechanism are known, recent publications suggest that gap junctions composed of connexin32 function as critical intercellular communication channels which transfer cytotoxic mediators into neighboring hepatocytes and aggravate liver injury. However, these studies did not consider off-target effects of reagents used in these experiments, especially the gap junction inhibitor 2-aminoethoxy-diphenyl-borate (2-APB). In order to assess the mechanisms of protection of 2-APB in vivo, male C56Bl/6 mice were treated with 400 mg/kg APAP to cause extensive liver injury. This injury was prevented when animals were co-treated with 20 mg/kg 2-APB and was attenuated when 2-APB was administered 1.5h after APAP. However, the protection was completely lost when 2-APB was given 4–6h after APAP. Measurement of protein adducts and c-jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation indicated that 2-APB reduced both protein binding and JNK activation, which correlated with hepatoprotection. Although some of the protection was due to the solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), in vitro experiments clearly demonstrated that 2-APB directly inhibits cytochrome P450 activities. In addition, JNK activation induced by phorone and tert-butylhydroperoxide in vivo was inhibited by 2-APB. The effects against APAP toxicity in vivo were reproduced in primary cultured hepatocytes without use of DMSO and in the absence of functional gap junctions. We conclude that the protective effect of 2-APB was caused by inhibition of metabolic activation of APAP and inhibition of the JNK signaling pathway and not by blocking connexin32-based gap junctions.
PMCID: PMC3858533  PMID: 24070586
acetaminophen hepatotoxicity; gap junctions; connexin32; c-jun-N-terminal kinase; protein adducts; 2-aminoethoxy-diphenyl-borate; oxidative stress
17.  Plasma Biomarkers of Liver Injury and Inflammation Demonstrate a Lack of Apoptosis during Obstructive Cholestasis in Mice 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.023.
Cholestasis is a pathological common component of numerous liver diseases that results in hepatotoxicity, inflammation, and cirrhosis when untreated. While the predominant hypothesis in cholestatic liver injury remains hepatocyte apoptosis due to direct toxicity of hydrophobic bile acid exposure, recent work suggests the injury occurs through inflammatory necrosis. In order to resolve this controversy, we used novel plasma biomarkers to assess the mechanisms of cell death during early cholestatic liver injury. C57Bl/6 mice underwent bile duct ligation (BDL) for 6–72h, or sham operation. Another group of mice were given D-galactosamine and endotoxin as a positive control for apoptosis and inflammatory necrosis. Plasma levels of full length cytokeratin-18 (FL-K18), microRNA-122 (miR-122) and high mobility group box-1 protein (HMGB1) increased progressively after BDL with peak levels observed after 48h. These results indicate extensive cell necrosis after BDL, which is supported by the time course of plasma alanine aminotransferase activities and histology. In contrast, plasma caspase-3 activity, cleaved caspase-3 protein and caspase-cleaved cytokeratin-18 fragments (cK18) were not elevated at any time during BDL suggesting the absence of apoptosis. In contrast, all plasma biomarkers of necrosis and apoptosis were elevated 6h after Gal/End treatment. In addition, acetylated HMGB1, a marker for macrophage and monocyte activation, was increased as early as 12h but mainly at 48–72h. However, progressive neutrophil accumulation in the area of necrosis started at 6h after BDL. In conclusion, these data indicate that early cholestatic liver injury in mice is an inflammatory event, and occurs through necrosis with little evidence for apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3860754  PMID: 24096036
Bile duct ligation; apoptosis; necrosis; biomarkers; cytokeratin-18; high mobility group box-1; microRNA-122; cholestasis
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):10.1016/j.taap.2013.10.006.
Onset of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) plays a causative role in ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Current therapeutic strategies for reducing reperfusion injury remain disappointing. Autophagy is a lysosome-mediated, catabolic process that timely eliminates abnormal or damaged cellular constituents and organelles such as dysfunctional mitochondria. I/R induces calcium overloading and calpain activation, leading to degradation of key autophagy-related proteins (Atg). Carbamazepine (CBZ), an FDA-approved anticonvulsant drug, has recently been reported to increase autophagy. We investigated the effects of CBZ on hepatic I/R injury. Hepatocytes and livers from male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to simulated in vitro, as well as in vivo I/R, respectively. Cell death, intracellular calcium, calpain activity, changes in autophagy-related proteins (Atg), autophagic flux, MPT and mitochondrial membrane potential after I/R were analyzed in the presence and absence of 20 µM CBZ. CBZ significantly increased hepatocyte viability after reperfusion. Confocal microscopy revealed that CBZ prevented calcium overloading, the onset of the MPT and mitochondrial depolarization. Immunoblotting and fluorometric analysis showed that CBZ blocked calpain activation, depletion of Atg7 and Beclin-1 and loss of autophagic flux after reperfusion. Intravital multiphoton imaging of anesthetized mice demonstrated that CBZ substantially reversed autophagic defects and mitochondrial dysfunction after I/R in vivo. In conclusion, CBZ prevents calcium overloading and calpain activation, which, in turn, suppresses Atg7 and Beclin-1 depletion, defective autophagy, onset of the MPT and cell death after I/R.
PMCID: PMC3867813  PMID: 24126417
mitochondria; autophagy; mitochondrial permeability transition; hepatocytes; ischemia/reperfusion; calcium
19.  Manipulation of the HIF-Vegf pathway rescues methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)-induced vascular lesions 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):623-634.
Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) has been shown to be specifically anti-angiogenic in piscine and mammalian model systems at concentrations that appear non-toxic in other organ systems. The mechanism by which MTBE targets developing vascular structures is unknown. A global transcriptome analysis of zebrafish embryos developmentally exposed to 0.00625–5 mM MTBE suggested hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-regulated pathways were affected. HIF-driven angiogenesis via vascular endothelial growth factor (vegf) is essential to the developing vasculature of an embryo. Three rescue studies were designed to rescue MTBE-induced vascular lesions: pooled blood in the common cardinal vein (CCV), cranial hemorrhages (CH), and abnormal intersegmental vessels (ISV), and test the hypothesis that MTBE toxicity was HIF-Vegf dependent. First, zebrafish vegf-a over-expression via plasmid injection, resulted in significantly fewer CH and ISV lesions, 46 and 35% respectively, in embryos exposed to 10mM MTBE. Then HIF degradation was inhibited in two ways. Chemical rescue by N-oxaloylglycine significantly reduced CCV and CH lesions by 30 and 32% in 10mM exposed embryos, and ISV lesions were reduced 24% in 5mM exposed zebrafish. Finally, a morpholino designed to knockdown ubiquitin associated von Hippel-Lindau protein, significantly reduced CCV lesions by 35% in 10mM exposed embryos. In addition, expression of some angiogenesis related genes altered by MTBE exposure were rescued. These studies demonstrated that MTBE vascular toxicity is mediated by a down regulation of HIF-Vegf driven angiogenesis. The selective toxicity of MTBE toward developing vasculature makes it a potentially useful chemical in the designing of new drugs or in elucidating roles for specific angiogenic proteins in future studies of vascular development.
PMCID: PMC3898687  PMID: 24128854
Vascular Toxicity; Angiogenesis; Methyl tert-butyl ether; vascular endothelial growth factor; Hypoxia inducible factor; N-oxalylglycine; von Hippel-Lindau protein
20.  Assessment of Beating Parameters in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Enables Quantitative In Vitro Screening for Cardiotoxicity 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):500-507.
Human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes show promise for screening during early drug development. Here, we tested a hypothesis that in vitro assessment of multiple cardiomyocyte physiological parameters enables predictive and mechanistically-interpretable evaluation of cardiotoxicity in a high-throughput format. Human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes were exposed for 30 minutes or 24 hours to 131 drugs, positive (107) and negative (24) for in vivo cardiotoxicity, in up to 6 concentrations (3 nM to 30 μM) in 384-well plates. Fast kinetic imaging was used to monitor changes in cardiomyocyte function using intracellular Ca2+ flux readouts synchronous with beating, and cell viability. A number of physiological parameters of cardiomyocyte beating, such as beat rate, peak shape (amplitude, width, raise, decay, etc.) and regularity were collected using automated data analysis. Concentration-response profiles were evaluated using logistic modeling to derive a benchmark concentration (BMC) point-of-departure value, based on one standard deviation departure from the estimated baseline in vehicle (0.3% dimethylsulfoxide)-treated cells. BMC values were used for cardiotoxicity classification and ranking of compounds. Beat rate and several peak shape parameters were found to be good predictors, while cell viability had poor classification accuracy. In addition, we applied the Toxicological Prioritization Index approach to integrate and display data across many collected parameters, to derive “cardiosafety” ranking of tested compounds. Multi-parameter screening of beating profiles allows for cardiotoxicity risk assessment and identification of specific patterns defining mechanism-specific effects. The data and analysis methods may be used widely for compound screening and early safety evaluation in the drug development process.
PMCID: PMC3900303  PMID: 24095675
Cardiotoxicity; iPSC cardiomyocytes; predictive toxicology; stem cell; calcium transient; ion channel; hERG; fast kinetic fluorescence imaging; screening
21.  Increased Bile Acids in Enterohepatic Circulation by Short-term Calorie Restriction in Male Mice 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(3):680-690.
Previous studies showed glucose and insulin signaling can regulate bile acid (BA) metabolism during fasting or feeding. However, limited knowledge is available on the effect of calorie restriction (CR), a well-known anti-aging intervention, on BA homeostasis. To address this, the present study utilized a “dose-response” model of CR, where male C57BL/6 mice were fed 0, 15, 30, or 40% CR diets for one month, followed by BA profiling in various compartments of the enterohepatic circulation by UPLC-MS/MS technique. This study showed that 40% CR increased the BA pool size (162%) as well as total BAs in serum, gallbladder, and small intestinal contents. In addition, CR “dose-dependently” increased the concentrations of tauro-cholic acid (TCA) and many secondary BAs (produced by intestinal bacteria) in serum, such as tauro-deoxycholic acid (TDCA), DCA, lithocholic acid, ω-muricholic acid (ωMCA), and hyodeoxycholic acid. Notably, 40% CR increased TDCA over 1000% (serum, liver, and gallbladder). Interestingly, 40% CR increased the proportion of 12α-hydroxylated BAs (CA and DCA), which correlated with improved glucose tolerance and lipid parameters. The CR-induced increase in BAs correlated with increased expression of BA-synthetic (Cyp7a1) and conjugating enzymes (BAL), and the ileal BA-binding protein (Ibabp). These results suggest that CR increases BAs in male mice possibly through orchestrated increases in BA synthesis and conjugation in liver as well as intracellular transport in ileum.
PMCID: PMC4132937  PMID: 24183703
Calorie restriction; Bile acids; Enterohepatic circulation; 12α-hydroxylated BAs; BA profiling; UPLC-MS/MS
22.  Chronic cadmium exposure in vitro induces cancer cell characteristics in human lung cells 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(2):10.1016/j.taap.2013.06.013.
Cadmium is a known human lung carcinogen. Here, we attempt to develop an in vitro model of cadmium-induced human lung carcinogenesis by chronically exposing the peripheral lung epithelia cell line, HPL-1D, to a low level of cadmium. Cells were chronically exposed to 5 μM cadmium, a noncytotoxic level, and monitored for acquired cancer characteristics. By 20 weeks of continuous cadmium exposure, these chronic cadmium treated lung (CCT-LC) cells showed marked increases in secreted MMP-2 activity (3.5-fold), invasion (3.4-fold), and colony formation in soft agar (2-fold). CCT-LC cells were hyperproliferative, grew well in serum-free media, and overexpressed cyclin D1. The CCT-LC cells also showed decreased expression of the tumor suppressor genes p16 and SLC38A3 at the protein levels. Also consistent with an acquired cancer cell phenotype, CCT-LC cells showed increased expression of the oncoproteins K-RAS and N-RAS as well as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition marker protein Vimentin. Metallothionein (MT) expression is increased by cadmium, and is typically overexpressed in human lung cancers. The major MT isoforms, MT-1A and MT-2A were elevated in CCT-LC cells. Oxidant adaptive response genes HO-1 and HIF-1A were also activated in CCT-LC cells. Expression of the metal transport genes ZNT-1, ZNT-5, and ZIP-8 increased in CCT-LC cells culminating in reduced cadmium accumulation, suggesting adaptation to the metal. Overall, these data suggest that exposure of human lung epithelial cells to cadmium causes acquisition of cancer cell characteristics. Furthermore, transformation occurs despite the cell’s ability to adapt to chronic cadmium exposure.
PMCID: PMC3863781  PMID: 23811327
Cadmium; Human lung cells; Transformation; Adaptation; Lung cancer; Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
23.  Coordinated role of voltage-gated sodium channels and the Na+/H+ exchanger in sustaining microglial activation during inflammation 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(2):10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.011.
Persistent neuroinflammation and microglial activation play an integral role in the pathogenesis of many neurological disorders. We investigated the role of voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSC) and Na+/H+ exchangers (NHE) in the activation of immortalized microglial cells (BV-2) after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. LPS (10 and 100 ng/ml) caused a dose- and time-dependent accumulation of intracellular sodium [(Na+)i] in BV-2 cells. Pre-treatment of cells with the VGSC antagonist tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1 μM) abolished short-term Na+ influx, but was unable to prevent the accumulation of (Na+)i observed at 6 and 24 h after LPS exposure. The NHE inhibitor cariporide (1 μM) significantly reduced accumulation of (Na+)i 6 and 24 h after LPS exposure. Furthermore, LPS increased the mRNA expression and protein level of NHE-1 in a dose- and time-dependent manner, which was significantly reduced after co-treatment with TTX and/or cariporide. LPS increased production of TNF-α, ROS, and H2O2 and expression of gp91phox, an active subunit of NADPH oxidase, in a dose- and time-dependent manner, which was significantly reduced by TTX or TTX + cariporide. Collectively, these data demonstrate a closely-linked temporal relationship between VGSC and NHE-1 in regulating function in activated microglia, which may provide avenues for therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing neuroinflammation.
PMCID: PMC3874798  PMID: 24070585
BV-2; Lipopolysaccharide; Tetrodotoxin; Inflammation; Microglia; Neurodegeneration; NADPH oxidase; NHE-1; Nav 1.6; Sodium channel; Sodium hydrogen exchanger
24.  Green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, induces toxicity in human skin cancer cells by targeting β-catenin signaling 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(2):10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.021.
The green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic effects in several skin tumor models, and efforts are continued to investigate the molecular targets responsible for its cytotoxic effects to cancer cells. Our recent observation that β-catenin is upregulated in skin tumors suggested the possibility that the anti-skin carcinogenic effects of EGCG are mediated, at least in part, through its effects on β-catenin signaling. We have found that treatment of the A431 and SCC13 human skin cancer cell lines with EGCG resulted in reduced cell viability and increased cell death and that these cytotoxic effects were associated with inactivation of β-catenin signaling. Evidence of EGCG-induced inactivation of β-catenin included: (i) Reduced accumulation of nuclear β-catenin; (ii) Enhanced levels of casein kinase 1α, reduced phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β, and increased phosphorylation of β-catenin on critical serine45,33/37 residues; and (iii) Reduced levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9, which are down-stream targets of β-catenin. Treatment of cells with prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) enhanced the accumulation of β-catenin and enhanced β-catenin signaling. Treatment with either EGCG or an EP2 antagonist (AH6809) reduced the PGE2-enhanced levels of cAMP, an upstream regulator of β-catenin. Inactivation of β-catenin by EGCG resulted in suppression of cell survival signaling proteins. siRNA knockdown of β-catenin in A431 and SCC13 cells reduced cell viability. Collectively, these data suggest that induction of cytotoxicity in skin cancer cells by EGCG is mediated by targeting of β-catenin signaling and that the β-catenin signaling is upregulated by inflammatory mediators.
PMCID: PMC3884646  PMID: 24096034
Cyclooxygenase-2; prostaglandin; β-catenin; (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate; green tea polyphenol; skin cancer; cell cycle regulation
25.  Proposed Mechanistic Description of Dose-Dependent BDE-47 Urinary Elimination in Mice Using a Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Model 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2013;273(2):335-344.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used in a wide variety of consumer applications as additive flame retardants. In North America, scientists have noted continuing increases in the levels of PBDE congeners measured in human serum. Some recent studies have found that PBDEs are associated with adverse health effects in humans, in experimental animals, and wildlife. This laboratory previously demonstrated that urinary elimination of 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) is saturable at high doses in mice; however, this dose-dependent urinary elimination has not been observed in adult rats or immature mice. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to examine the mechanism of urinary elimination of BDE-47 in adult mice using a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model. To support this objective, additional laboratory data were collected to evaluate the predictions of the PBPK model using novel information from adult multi-drug resistance 1a/b knockout mice. Using the PBPK model, the roles of mouse major urinary protein (a blood protein carrier) and P-glycoprotein (an apical membrane transporter in proximal tubule cells in the kidneys, brain, intestines, and liver) were investigated in BDE-47 elimination. The resulting model and new data supported the major role of m-MUP in excretion of BDE-47 in the urine of adult mice, and a lesser role of P-gp as a transporter of BDE-47 in mice. This work expands the knowledge of BDE-47 kinetics between species and provides information for determining the relevancy of these data for human risk assessment purposes.
PMCID: PMC3913262  PMID: 24055880
PBPK; pharmacokinetics; PBDE; BDE-47; m-MUP; P-gp; mouse

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