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Toxicol In Vitro. 2003 Oct-Dec;17(5-6):737-44.

In vitro assay for human toxicity of cereulide, the emetic mitochondrial toxin produced by food poisoning Bacillus cereus.

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Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 56, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.


The in vitro boar spermatozoon test was compared with the LC ion trap MS analysis for measuring the cereulide content of a pasta dish, implemented in serious emetic food poisoning caused by Bacillus cereus. Both assays showed that the poisonous food contained approximately 1.6 microg of cereulide g(-1) implying the toxic dose in human as < or =8 microg kg(-1) body weight. The threshold concentration of cereulide provoking visible mitochondrial damage in boar sperm exposed in vitro was 2 ng of cereulide ml(-1) of extended boar sperm. The same threshold value was found for cereulide extracted from the food and from the cultured bacteria. This shows that other constituents of the food did not enhance or mask the effects of cereulide. Exposure of four human cell lines (HeLa, Caco-2, Calu-3 and Paju) to cereulide showed that the threshold concentration for the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential in human cells was similar to that observed in boar sperm. Human cells and boar sperm were equally sensitive to cereulide. The results show that boar spermatozoan assay is useful for detecting cereulide concentrations toxic to humans. Spermatozoa in commercially available extended fresh boar and cryopreserved bull semen were compared, boar sperms were 100 times more sensitive to cereulide than bull sperms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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