Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology

Metabolic effects of trichothecene T-2 toxin.

PMID 2200582


Cereals and other agricultural products contaminated with trichothecene mycotoxins are unfit for consumption. Until recently, the metabolic effects of T-2 toxin (T-2) were thought to reside in its ability to inhibit protein synthesis. It is now clear that trichothecenes have multiple effects, including inhibition of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in several cellular systems, inhibition of in vitro protein synthesis, inhibition of mitochondrial functions, effects on cell division, normal cell shape, and hemolysis of erythrocytes. It is argued that these effects are pleiotropic responses of the cell's biosynthetic network to protein synthesis inhibition. However, in studies with erythrocytes, which lack nuclei and protein synthesis, changes in cell shape and lytic response towards T-2 are observed. Susceptibility to lysis is species dependent and correlates with the presence of phosphatidylcholine. Owing to their amphipathic nature, T-2 and other trichothecenes could exert their cytotoxicity by acting on cell membranes. As for cell energetics, T-2 inhibits the mitochondrial electron transport system, with succinic dehydrogenase as one site of action. Although initial investigations of the metabolic effects of T-2 mediated cytotoxicity suggested the inhibition of protein synthesis as the principal site of action, current thought suggests that the effects of trichothecenes are much more diverse.