Archives of toxicology

The Alternaria mycotoxins alternariol and alternariol methyl ether induce cytochrome P450 1A1 and apoptosis in murine hepatoma cells dependent on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor.

PMID 22120949


The Alternaria mycotoxins alternariol (AOH) and alternariol methyl ether (AME) are potential carcinogens. As planar compounds, AOH and AME are preferentially metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A1 and 1A2. The most prominent regulator of CYP1A1 is the dimeric transcription factor complex AhR/ARNT, which is activated by planar ligands. Therefore, we studied the activation of AhR/ARNT by AOH and AME and monitored CYP1A1 induction in murine hepatoma cells (Hepa-1c1c7). Indeed, AOH and AME enhanced the levels of CYP1A1 in Hepa-1c1c7 cells but not in cells with inactivated AhR (Hepa-1c1c12) or ARNT (Hepa-1c1c4). AOH and AME did not increase the production of reactive oxygen species but reduced cell counts in Hepa-1c1c7 cells after 24 and 48 h. This effect, however, was independent of AhR/ARNT. At 48 h, AOH and AME increased apoptosis dependent on AhR and ARNT. In conclusion, AOH and AME are novel inducers of the AhR/ARNT pathway, which mediates induction of CYP1A1 and apoptosis and might thereby contribute to the toxicity of these mycotoxins.