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Toxicology. 2008 Oct 30;252(1-3):72-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.07.065. Epub 2008 Aug 8.

Cytotoxicity effects induced by Zearalenone metabolites, alpha Zearalenol and beta Zearalenol, on cultured Vero cells.

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Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Substances Biologiquement Compatibles (LRSBC), Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Rue Avicenne, 5019 Monastir, Tunisia.


Zearalenone (Zen) is a non-steroidal estrogenic mycotoxin produced by several species of Fusarium. It has been implicated in several mycotoxicosis in farm animals and in humans. The major metabolites of this mycotoxin in various species are alpha and beta Zearalenol. In vivo, Zen is mainly reduced to these alcoholic metabolites which cause reproductive tract disorders and impaired fertility due to their estrogenic activities. In this study, we examined the cytotoxicity of alpha and beta Zearalenol in cultured cells. For this purpose, the MTT assay was carried out and the influence of alpha and beta Zearalenol on protein and DNA syntheses was assessed. To evaluate the cell stress caused by these two metabolites, oxidative stress measured by MDA induction and stress protein induction (Hsp 70, Hsp 27) were tested. Results showed that alpha and beta Zearalenol were metabolites that caused cytotoxicity by inhibiting cell viability, protein and DNA syntheses and inducing oxidative damage and over-expression of stress proteins. However, the Zen metabolites exhibited lower toxicity than Zen, with beta zearalenol being the more active of the two metabolites.

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