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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2007 Jan-Mar;20(1):111-8.

Longer resistance of some DNA traits from BT176 maize to gastric juice from gastrointestinal affected patients.

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Istituto Superiore di Sanità, National Centre for Food Quality and Risk Assessment, Rome, Italy.


The presence of antibiotic resistance marker genes in genetically engineered plants is one of the most controversial issues related to Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)-containing food, raising concern about the possibility that these markers could increase the pool of antibiotic resistance genes. This study investigates the in vitro survival of genes bla and cryIA(b) of maize Bt176 in human gastric juice samples. Five samples of gastric juice were collected from patients affected by gastro-esophageal reflux or celiac disease and three additional samples were obtained by pH modification with NaHCO3. DNA was extracted from maize Bt176 and incubated with samples of gastric juices at different times. The survival of the target traits (bla gene, whole 1914 bp gene cry1A(b), and its 211 bp fragment) was determined using PCR. The stability of the target genes was an inverse function of their lengths in all the samples. Survival in samples from untreated subjects was below the normal physiological time of gastric digestion. On the contrary, survival time in samples from patients under anti-acid drug treatment or in samples whose pH was modified, resulted strongly increased. Our data indicate the possibility that in particular cases the survival time could be so delayed that, as a consequence, some traits of DNA could reach the intestine. In general, this aspect must be considered for vulnerable consumers (people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases related to altered digestive functionality, physiological problems or drug side-effects) in the risk analysis usually referred to healthy subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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