Foodborne diseases affect an estimated 600 million people worldwide annually, with the majority of these illnesses caused by Norovirus, Vibrio, Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli. To elicit infections in humans, bacterial pathogens express a combination of virulence factors and toxins. AB5 toxins are an example of such toxins that can cause various clinical manifestations, including dehydration, diarrhea, kidney damage, hemorrhagic colitis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Treatment of most bacterial foodborne illnesses consists of fluid replacement and antibiotics. However, antibiotics are not recommended for infections caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) because of the increased risk of HUS development, although there are conflicting views and results in this regard. Lack of effective treatment strategies for STEC infections pose a public health threat during outbreaks; therefore, the debate on antibiotic use for STEC infections could be further explored, along with investigations into antibiotic alternatives. The overall goal of this review is to provide a succinct summary on the mechanisms of action and the pathogenesis of AB5 and related toxins, as expressed by bacterial foodborne pathogens, with a primary focus on Shiga toxins (Stx). The role of Stx in human STEC disease, detection methodologies, and available treatment options are also briefly discussed.
In the context of increasing occurrences of toxic cyanobacterial blooms worldwide, their monitoring in Belgium is currently performed by regional environmental agencies (in two of three regions) using different protocols and is restricted to some selected recreational ponds and lakes. Therefore, a global assessment based on the comparison of existing datasets is not possible. For this study, 79 water samples from a monitoring of five lakes in Wallonia and occasional blooms in Flanders and Brussels, including a canal, were analyzed. A Liquid Chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method allowed to detect and quantify eight microcystin congeners. The mcyE gene was detected using PCR, while dominant cyanobacterial species were identified using 16S RNA amplification and direct sequencing. The cyanobacterial diversity for two water samples was characterized with amplicon sequencing. Microcystins were detected above limit of quantification (LOQ) in 68 water samples, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended guideline value for microcystins in recreational water (24 µg L−1) was surpassed in 18 samples. The microcystin concentrations ranged from 0.11 µg L−1 to 2798.81 µg L−1 total microcystin. For 45 samples, the dominance of the genera Microcystis sp., Dolichospermum sp., Aphanizomenon sp., Cyanobium/Synechococcus sp., Planktothrix sp., Romeria sp., Cyanodictyon sp., and Phormidium sp. was shown. Moreover, the mcyE gene was detected in 75.71% of all the water samples.
Diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia H.Peragallo are known to produce domoic acid (DA), a toxin involved in amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP). Strains of the same species are often classified as both toxic and nontoxic, and it is largely unknown whether this difference is also genetic. In the Northern Adriatic Sea, there are virtually no cases of ASP, but DA occasionally occurs in shellfish samples. So far, three species—P. delicatissima (Cleve) Heiden, P. multistriata (H. Takano) H. Takano, and P. calliantha Lundholm, Moestrup, & Hasle—have been identified as producers of DA in the Adriatic Sea. By means of enzme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), high-performance liquid chromatography with UV and visible spectrum detection (HPLC-UV/VIS), and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), we reconfirmed the presence of DA in P. multistriata and P. delicatissima and detect for the first time in the Adriatic Sea DA in P. galaxiae Lundholm, & Moestrup. Furthermore, we attempted to answer the question of the distribution of DA production among Pseudo-nitzschia species and strains by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) phylogenetic marker and the dabA DA biosynthesis gene and coupling this with toxicity data. Results show that all subclades of the Pseudo-nitzschia genus contain toxic species and that toxicity appears to be strain dependent, often with geographic partitioning. Amplification of dabA was successful only in toxic strains of P. multistriata and the presence of the genetic architecture for DA production in non-toxic strains was thus not confirmed.
Linear cationic venom peptides are antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that exert their effects by damaging cell membranes. These peptides can be highly specific, and for some, a significant therapeutic value was proposed, in particular for treatment of bacterial infections. A prolific source of novel AMPs are arthropod venoms, especially those of hitherto neglected groups such as pseudoscorpions. In this study, we describe for the first time pharmacological effects of AMPs discovered in pseudoscorpion venom. We examined the antimicrobial, cytotoxic, and insecticidal activity of full-length Checacin1, a major component of the Chelifer cancroides venom, and three truncated forms of this peptide. The antimicrobial tests revealed a potent inhibitory activity of Checacin1 against several bacteria and fungi, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and even Gram-negative pathogens. All peptides reduced survival rates of aphids, with Checacin1 and the C-terminally truncated Checacin11−21 exhibiting effects comparable to Spinosad, a commercially used pesticide. Cytotoxic effects on mammalian cells were observed mainly for the full-length Checacin1. All tested peptides might be potential candidates for developing lead structures for aphid pest treatment. However, as these peptides were not yet tested on other insects, aphid specificity has not been proven. The N- and C-terminal fragments of Checacin1 are less potent against aphids but exhibit no cytotoxicity on mammalian cells at the tested concentration of 100 µM.
Snakebite is a significant and under-resourced global public health issue. Snake venoms cause a variety of potentially fatal clinical toxin syndromes, including venom-induced consumption coagulopathy (VICC) which is associated with major haemorrhage. A subset of patients with VICC develop a thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). This article reviews recent evidence regarding snakebite-associated TMA and its epidemiology, diagnosis, outcomes, and effectiveness of interventions including antivenom and therapeutic plasma-exchange. Snakebite-associated TMA presents with microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia (evidenced by schistocytes on the blood film), thrombocytopenia in almost all cases, and a spectrum of acute kidney injury (AKI). A proportion of patients require dialysis, most survive and achieve dialysis free survival. There is no evidence that antivenom prevents TMA specifically, but early antivenom remains the mainstay of treatment for snake envenoming. There is no evidence for therapeutic plasma-exchange being effective. We propose diagnostic criteria for snakebite-associated TMA as anaemia with >1.0% schistocytes on blood film examination, together with absolute thrombocytopenia (<150 × 109/L) or a relative decrease in platelet count of >25% from baseline. Patients are at risk of long-term chronic kidney disease and long term follow up is recommended.
We analyzed, for the first time, the major components and biological properties of the venom of Vespa bicolor, a wasp from South China. Using HPLC and SDS-PAGE, combined with LC–MS/MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, and NMR data to analyze V. bicolor venom (VBV), we found that VBV contains three proteins (hyaluronidase A, phospholipase A1 (two isoforms), and antigen 5 protein) with allergenic activity, two unreported proteins (proteins 5 and 6), and two active substances with large quantities (mastoparan-like peptide 12a (Vb-MLP 12a), and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)). In addition, the antimicrobial activity of VBV was determined, and results showed that it had a significant effect against anaerobic bacteria. The minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration for Propionibacterium acnes were 12.5 µg/mL. Unsurprisingly, VBV had strong antioxidant activity because of the abundance of 5-HT. Contrary to other Vespa venom, VBV showed significant anti-inflammatory activity, even at low concentrations (1 µg/mL), and we found that Vb-MLP 12a showed pro-inflammatory activity by promoting the proliferation of RAW 264.7 cells. Cytotoxicity studies showed that VBV had similar antiproliferative effects against all tested tumor cell lines (HepG2, Hela, MCF-7, A549, and SASJ-1), with HepG2 being the most susceptible. Overall, this study on VBV has high clinical importance and promotes the development of Vespa bicolor resources.
Aflatoxins B1 (AFB1) and G1 (AFG1) are carcinogenic mycotoxins that contaminate crops such as maize and groundnuts worldwide. The broadly accepted method to assess chronic human aflatoxin exposure is by quantifying the amount of aflatoxin adducted to human serum albumin. This has been reported using ELISA, HPLC, or LC-MS/MS to measure the amount of AFB1-lysine released after proteolysis of serum albumin. LC-MS/MS is the most accurate method but requires both isotopically labelled and unlabelled AFB1-lysine standards, which are not commercially available. In this work, we report a simplified synthetic route to produce unlabelled, deuterated and 13C6 15N2 labelled aflatoxin B1-lysine and for the first-time aflatoxin G1-lysine. Additionally, we report on the stability of these compounds during storage. This simplified synthetic approach will make the production of these important standards more feasible for laboratories performing aflatoxin exposure studies.
The insecticidal Vip3 proteins, secreted by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) during its vegetative growth phase, are currently used in Bt crops to control insect pests, and are genetically distinct from known insecticidal Cry proteins. Compared with Cry toxins, the mechanisms of Vip3 toxins are still poorly understood. Here, the responses of Spodoptera frugiperda larvae after Vip3Aa challenge are characterized. Using an integrative analysis of transcriptomics and proteomics, we found that Vip3Aa has enormous implications for various pathways. The downregulated genes and proteins were mainly enriched in metabolic pathways, including the insect hormone synthesis pathway, whereas the upregulated genes and proteins were mainly involved in the caspase-mediated apoptosis pathway, along with the MAPK signaling and endocytosis pathways. Moreover, we also identified some important candidate genes involved in apoptosis and MAPKs. The present study shows that exposure of S. frugiperda larvae to Vip3Aa activates apoptosis pathways, leading to cell death. The results will promote our understanding of the host response process to the Vip3Aa, and help us to better understand the mode of action of Vip3A toxins.
Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT/A) is an FDA and NICE approved second-line treatment for overactive bladder (OAB) in patients either not responsive or intolerant to anti-cholinergic drugs. BoNT/A acts to weaken muscle contraction by blocking release of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline (ACh) at neuromuscular junctions. However, this biological activity does not easily explain all the observed effects in clinical and non-clinical studies. There are also conflicting reports of expression of the BoNT/A protein receptor, SV2, and intracellular target protein, SNAP-25, in the urothelium and bladder. This review presents the current evidence of BoNT/A’s effect on bladder sensation, potential mechanisms by which it might exert these effects and discusses recent advances in understanding the action of BoNT in bladder tissue.
The syndrome of uremic toxicity comprises a complex toxic milieu in-vivo, as numerous uremic substances accumulate and harm the organ systems. Among these substances, toxic and non-toxic players differently interfere with human cells. However, results from animal experiments are not always compatible with the expected reactions in human patients and studies on one organ system are limited in capturing the complexity of the uremic situation. In this narrative review, we present aspects relevant for cellular toxicity research based on our previous establishment of a human spermatozoa-based cell model, as follows: (i) applicability to compare the effects of more than 100 uremic substances, (ii) detection of the protective effects of uremic substances by the cellular responses towards the uremic milieu, (iii) inclusion of the drug milieu for cellular function, and (iv) transferability for clinical application, e.g., hemodialysis. Our technique allows the estimation of cell viability, vitality, and physiological state, not only restricted to acute or chronic kidney toxicity but also for other conditions, such as intoxications of unknown substances. The cellular models can clarify molecular mechanisms of action of toxins related to human physiology and therapy. Identification of uremic toxins retained during acute and chronic kidney injury enables further research on the removal or degradation of such products.