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Microbiol Immunol. 2005;49(1):25-30.

Quantitative analysis of cereulide, an emetic toxin of Bacillus cereus, by using rat liver mitochondria.

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Department of Medical Technology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Health Science, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.


An emetic toxin cereulide, produced by Bacillus cereus, causes emetic food poisonings, but a method for quantitative measurement of cereulide has not been well established. A current detection method is a bioassay method using the HEp-2 cell vacuolation test, but it was unable to measure an accurate concentration. We established a quantitative assay for cereulide based on its mitochondrial respiratory uncoupling activity. The oxygen consumption in a reaction medium containing rat liver mitochondria was rapid in the presence of cereulide. Thus uncoupling effect of cereulide on mitochondrial respiration was similar to those of uncouplers 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), and valinomycin. This method gave constant results over a wide range of cereulide concentrations, ranging from 0.05 to 100 microg/ml. The minimum cereulide concentration to detect uncoupled oxygen consumption was 50 ng/ml and increased dose-dependently to the maximum level. Semi-log relationship between the oxygen consumption rate and the cereulide concentration enables this method to quantify cereulide. The results of this method were highly reproducible as compared with the HEp-2 cell vacuolation test and were in good agreement with those of the HEp-2 cell vacuolation test. The enterotoxin of B. cereus or Staphylococcus aureus did not show any effect on the oxygen consumption, indicating this method is specific for the identification of cereulide as a causative agent of emetic food poisonings.

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