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Toxins, Volume 13, Issue 2 (February 2021) – 100 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Chemical warfare plays an important role in the adaptation of marine invertebrates to their environment. However, it is often unclear how toxins fit into the evolutionary history of many taxa. Through transcriptomics, the Polychaeta Eulalia sp., a jawless intertidal predator, was found to secrete a cocktail of proteinaceous toxins and enzymes that block neuromuscular activity, promote tissue permeabilization, and hinder coagulation. Delivery is accomplished by specialized tentacles at the tip of the proboscis, using mucus as a vehicle. The main neurotoxins, named “phyllotoxins”, were found to be similar to cysteine-rich venom proteins, a class of substances ubiquitous among venomous animals. Some toxins were closely related with Polychaeta, Mollusca or Cnidaria toxin and non-toxin homologs. Phylogenetics highlight that the recruitment of gene products into venom systems is complex. View [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Natural Occurrence of Mycotoxin-Producing Fusaria in Market-Bought Peruvian Cereals: A Food Safety Threat for Andean Populations
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 172; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020172 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 684
Abstract
Consumption of cereals contaminated by mycotoxins poses health risks. For instance, Fumonisins B, mainly produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusariumproliferatum, and the type B trichothecene deoxynivalenol, typically produced by Fusarium graminearum, are highly prevalent on cereal grains that are staples of [...] Read more.
Consumption of cereals contaminated by mycotoxins poses health risks. For instance, Fumonisins B, mainly produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusariumproliferatum, and the type B trichothecene deoxynivalenol, typically produced by Fusarium graminearum, are highly prevalent on cereal grains that are staples of many cultural diets and known to represent a toxic risk hazard. In Peru, corn and other cereals are frequently consumed on a daily basis under various forms, the majority of food grains being sold through traditional markets for direct consumption. Here, we surveyed mycotoxin contents of market-bought grain samples in order to assess the threat these mycotoxins might represent to Peruvian population, with a focus on corn. We found that nearly one sample of Peruvian corn out of six was contaminated with very high levels of Fumonisins, levels mostly ascribed to the presence of F. verticillioides. Extensive profiling of Peruvian corn kernels for fungal contaminants could provide elements to refine the potential risk associated with Fusarium toxins and help define adapted food safety standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessReview
Mycotoxin Occurrence, Toxicity, and Detoxifying Agents in Pig Production with an Emphasis on Deoxynivalenol
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 171; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020171 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 528
Abstract
This review aimed to investigate the occurrence of mycotoxins, their toxic effects, and the detoxifying agents discussed in scientific publications that are related to pig production. Mycotoxins that are of major interest are aflatoxins and Fusarium toxins, such as deoxynivalenol and fumonisins, because [...] Read more.
This review aimed to investigate the occurrence of mycotoxins, their toxic effects, and the detoxifying agents discussed in scientific publications that are related to pig production. Mycotoxins that are of major interest are aflatoxins and Fusarium toxins, such as deoxynivalenol and fumonisins, because of their elevated frequency at a global scale and high occurrence in corn, which is the main feedstuff in pig diets. The toxic effects of aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, and fumonisins include immune modulation, disruption of intestinal barrier function, and cytotoxicity leading to cell death, which all result in impaired pig performance. Feed additives, such as mycotoxin-detoxifying agents, that are currently available often combine organic and inorganic sources to enhance their adsorbability, immune stimulation, or ability to render mycotoxins less toxic. In summary, mycotoxins present challenges to pig production globally because of their increasing occurrences in recent years and their toxic effects impairing the health and growth of pigs. Effective mycotoxin-detoxifying agents must be used to boost pig health and performance and to improve the sustainable use of crops. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impaired Performance of Broiler Chickens Fed Diets Naturally Contaminated with Moderate Levels of Deoxynivalenol
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 170; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020170 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 427
Abstract
Mycotoxin exposure is common in the poultry industry. Deoxynivalenol (DON) is usually detected at levels below the maximum threshold (5000 ppb), but depending on diet and age, broiler performance can be affected. We evaluated the effects of 900 ppb and 2300 ppb DON [...] Read more.
Mycotoxin exposure is common in the poultry industry. Deoxynivalenol (DON) is usually detected at levels below the maximum threshold (5000 ppb), but depending on diet and age, broiler performance can be affected. We evaluated the effects of 900 ppb and 2300 ppb DON on the performance, intestinal morphometry, and lesion scores of broiler chickens. One-day-old male Ross broilers (n = 736) were divided into 4 treatments with 8 replicates each, and a pen containing 23 birds was the experimental unit. The animals were fed diets naturally contaminated with two levels of DON: 900 (Low DON—LD) or 2300 (Moderate DON—MD) ppb, with or without activated charcoal, over 28 days. After this, all birds were fed a marginally DON-contaminated diet without charcoal. During the first 28 days, body weight gain (BWG) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were significantly impaired when broilers were fed a MD diet without activated charcoal. Even after feeding a marginally contaminated diet from D28–35, birds previously fed the MD diet presented a significantly lower performance. The villus height:crypt depth (VH:CD) ratio was significantly higher in the ileum from 14-day-old broilers fed the MD when compared with the LD diet. At D28, the MD diet caused decreased villus height (VH) and increased crypt depth (CD), affecting VH:CD ratio in both intestinal segments, with higher levels in the jejunum from 28-day-old broilers fed a non-supplemented LD diet. Broiler production was negatively affected by DON, even at moderate levels (2300 ppb). Full article
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Open AccessReview
Use of AbobotulinumtoxinA for Cosmetic Treatments in the Neck, and Middle and Lower Areas of the Face: A Systematic Review
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 169; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020169 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 643
Abstract
AbobotulinumtoxinA (aboBoNT-A) has been used for various cosmetic purposes, including minimization of moderate to severe lines, or other cosmetic indications, in the face and neck. We carried out a systematic review to identify all relevant evidence on the treatment approaches and outcomes of [...] Read more.
AbobotulinumtoxinA (aboBoNT-A) has been used for various cosmetic purposes, including minimization of moderate to severe lines, or other cosmetic indications, in the face and neck. We carried out a systematic review to identify all relevant evidence on the treatment approaches and outcomes of aboBoNT-A as a cosmetic treatment of the middle and lower areas of the face, and the neck. Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, congress proceedings and review bibliographies were searched for relevant studies. Identified articles were screened against pre-specified eligibility criteria. Of 560 unique articles identified, 10 were included for data extraction (three observational studies, 1 randomized controlled trial [with two articles] and five non-randomized trials). The articles provided data on gummy/asymmetric smile (2), marionette lines (5), masseter muscle volume (2), nasal wrinkles (2), perioral wrinkles (3) and the platysma muscle (4). All articles reporting on efficacy of aboBoNT-A demonstrated positive results, including reduction of wrinkles (5), reduction of masseter muscle (2) and degree of gummy smile (1) compared with before treatment. No serious adverse events were reported and patient satisfaction was high. In conclusion, positive findings support further research of aboBoNT-A for the middle and lower areas of the face, and in the neck, which are largely unapproved indications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Botulinum Toxin in Clinical Medicine)
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Open AccessArticle
Shellfish Toxin Uptake and Depuration in Multiple Atlantic Canadian Molluscan Species: Application to Selection of Sentinel Species in Monitoring Programs
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 168; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020168 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 390
Abstract
Shellfish toxin monitoring programs often use mussels as the sentinel species to represent risk in other bivalve shellfish species. Studies have examined accumulation and depuration rates in various species, but little information is available to compare multiple species from the same harvest area. [...] Read more.
Shellfish toxin monitoring programs often use mussels as the sentinel species to represent risk in other bivalve shellfish species. Studies have examined accumulation and depuration rates in various species, but little information is available to compare multiple species from the same harvest area. A 2-year research project was performed to validate the use of mussels as the sentinel species to represent other relevant eastern Canadian shellfish species (clams, scallops, and oysters). Samples were collected simultaneously from Deadmans Harbour, NB, and were tested for paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) and amnesic shellfish toxin (AST). Phytoplankton was also monitored at this site. Scallops accumulated PSTs and AST sooner, at higher concentrations, and retained toxins longer than mussels. Data from monitoring program samples in Mahone Bay, NS, are presented as a real-world validation of findings. Simultaneous sampling of mussels and scallops showed significant differences between shellfish toxin results in these species. These data suggest more consideration should be given to situations where multiple species are present, especially scallops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Toxins from Harmful Algae and Seafood Safety)
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptome Analysis of Caco-2 Cells upon the Exposure of Mycotoxin Deoxynivalenol and Its Acetylated Derivatives
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 167; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020167 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 365
Abstract
Deoxynivalenol (DON), 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-ADON) and 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol (15-ADON) are type B trichothecenes; one of the major pollutants in food and feed products. Although the toxicity of DON has been well documented, information on the toxicity of its acetylated derivative remains incomplete. To acquire more [...] Read more.
Deoxynivalenol (DON), 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-ADON) and 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol (15-ADON) are type B trichothecenes; one of the major pollutants in food and feed products. Although the toxicity of DON has been well documented, information on the toxicity of its acetylated derivative remains incomplete. To acquire more detailed insight into 3-ADON and 15-ADON, Caco-2 cells under 0.5 µM DON, 3-ADON and 15-ADON treatment for 24 h were subjected to RNA-seq analysis. In the present study, 2656, 3132 and 2425 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were selected, respectively, and were enriched utilizing the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) and the Gene Ontology (GO) database. The upregulation of ataxia-telangiectasia mutated kinase (ATM), WEE1 homolog 2 (WEE2) and downregulation of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), minichromosome maintenance (MCMs), cyclin dependent kinase (CDKs), and E2Fs indicate that the three toxins induced DNA damage, inhibition of DNA replication and cell cycle arrest in Caco-2 cells. Additionally, the upregulation of sestrin (SENEs) and NEIL1 implied that the reason for DNA damage may be attributable to oxidative stress. Our study provides insight into the toxic mechanism of 3-ADON and 15-ADON. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Feed-Based Multi-Mycotoxin Occurrence in Smallholder Dairy Farming Systems of South Africa: The Case of Limpopo and Free State
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 166; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020166 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 420
Abstract
Mycotoxin contamination of feed does not only cut across food and feed value chains but compromises animal productivity and health, affecting farmers, traders and consumers alike. To aid in the development of a sustainable strategy for mycotoxin control in animal-based food production systems, [...] Read more.
Mycotoxin contamination of feed does not only cut across food and feed value chains but compromises animal productivity and health, affecting farmers, traders and consumers alike. To aid in the development of a sustainable strategy for mycotoxin control in animal-based food production systems, this study focused on smallholder farming systems where 77 dairy cattle feed samples were collected from 28 smallholder dairy establishments in the Limpopo and Free State provinces of South Africa between 2018 and 2019. Samples were analyzed using a confirmatory UHPLC–MS/MS (Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) method validated for simultaneous detection of 23 mycotoxins in feeds. Overall, mycotoxins assessed were detected across samples with 86% of samples containing at least one mycotoxin above respective decision limits; up to 66% of samples were found to be contaminated with at least three mycotoxins. Findings demonstrated that deoxynivalenol, sterigmatocystin, alternariol and enniatin B were the most common mycotoxins, while low to marginal detection rates were observed for all other mycotoxins with none of the samples containing fusarenon-X, HT-2-toxin and neosolaniol. Isolated cases of deoxynivalenol (maximum: 2385 µg/kg), aflatoxins (AFB1 (maximum: 30.2 µg/kg)/AFG1 (maximum: 23.1 µg/kg)), and zearalenone (maximum: 1793 µg/kg) in excess of local and European regulatory limits were found. Kruskal–Wallis testing for pairwise comparisons showed commercial feed had significantly higher contamination for deoxynivalenol and its acylated derivatives, ochratoxin A and fumonisins (FB1 and FB2), whereas forages had significantly higher alternariol; in addition to significantly higher fumonisin B1 contamination for Limpopo coupled with significantly higher enniatin B and sterigmatocystin for Free State. Statistically significant Spearman correlations (p < 0.01) were also apparent for ratios for deoxynivalenol/fumonisin B1 (rs = 0.587) and zearalenone/alternariol methylether (rs = 0.544). Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Understanding Mycotoxin Occurrence in Food and Feed Chains)
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation and Neutralization Efficacy of Novel Jellyfish Antivenoms against Cyanea nozakii Toxins
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 165; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020165 - 21 Feb 2021
Viewed by 444
Abstract
Jellyfish stings are a common issue globally, particularly in coastal areas in the summer. Victims can suffer pain, itching, swelling, shock, and even death. Usually, hot water, vinegar, or alumen is used to treat the normal symptoms of a jellyfish sting. However, a [...] Read more.
Jellyfish stings are a common issue globally, particularly in coastal areas in the summer. Victims can suffer pain, itching, swelling, shock, and even death. Usually, hot water, vinegar, or alumen is used to treat the normal symptoms of a jellyfish sting. However, a specific antivenom may be an effective treatment to deal with severe jellyfish stings. Cyanea nozakii often reach a diameter of 60 cm and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of stings per year in coastal Chinese waters. However, there has been no specific C. nozakii antivenom until now, and so the development of this antivenom is very important. Herein, we collected C. nozakii antisera from tentacle extract venom immunized rabbits and purified the immunoglobulin (IgG) fraction antivenom (AntiCnTXs). Subsequently, two complete procedures to produce a refined F(ab’)2 type of antivenom (F(ab’)2-AntiCnTXs) and Fab type of antivenom (Fab-AntiCnTXs) by multiple optimizations and purification were established. The neutralization efficacy of these three types of antivenoms was compared and analyzed in vitro and in vivo, and the results showed that all types of antibodies displayed some neutralization effect on the lethality of C. nozakii venom toxins, with the neutralization efficacy as follows: F(ab’)2-AntiCnTXs ≥ AntiCnTXs > Fab-AntiCnTXs. This study describes the preparation of novel C. nozakii jellyfish antivenom preparations towards the goal of developing a new, effective treatment for jellyfish stings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics for Jellyfish Envenomation)
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Open AccessArticle
Novel Three-Finger Neurotoxins from Naja melanoleuca Cobra Venom Interact with GABAA and Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 164; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020164 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 372
Abstract
Cobra venoms contain three-finger toxins (TFT) including α-neurotoxins efficiently binding nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). As shown recently, several TFTs block GABAA receptors (GABAARs) with different efficacy, an important role of the TFTs central loop in binding to these receptors being [...] Read more.
Cobra venoms contain three-finger toxins (TFT) including α-neurotoxins efficiently binding nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). As shown recently, several TFTs block GABAA receptors (GABAARs) with different efficacy, an important role of the TFTs central loop in binding to these receptors being demonstrated. We supposed that the positive charge (Arg36) in this loop of α-cobratoxin may explain its high affinity to GABAAR and here studied α-neurotoxins from African cobra N. melanoleuca venom for their ability to interact with GABAARs and nAChRs. Three α-neurotoxins, close homologues of the known N. melanoleuca long neurotoxins 1 and 2, were isolated and sequenced. Their analysis on Torpedocalifornica and α7 nAChRs, as well as on acetylcholine binding proteins and on several subtypes of GABAARs, showed that all toxins interacted with the GABAAR much weaker than with the nAChR: one neurotoxin was almost as active as α-cobratoxin, while others manifested lower activity. The earlier hypothesis about the essential role of Arg36 as the determinant of high affinity to GABAAR was not confirmed, but the results obtained suggest that the toxin loop III may contribute to the efficient interaction of some long-chain neurotoxins with GABAAR. One of isolated toxins manifested different affinity to two binding sites on Torpedo nAChR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Their Components: Molecular Mechanisms of Action)
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Open AccessArticle
Combination of Extrusion and Fermentation with Lactobacillus plantarum and L. uvarum Strains for Improving the Safety Characteristics of Wheat Bran
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 163; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020163 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 414
Abstract
Processed wheat bran (W) is of great importance for food and feed. Consequently, the biosafety of W should be evaluated and improved with valorisation strategies. This study tested a design combining extrusion (at temperature of 115 and 130 °C; screw speeds of 16, [...] Read more.
Processed wheat bran (W) is of great importance for food and feed. Consequently, the biosafety of W should be evaluated and improved with valorisation strategies. This study tested a design combining extrusion (at temperature of 115 and 130 °C; screw speeds of 16, 20, and 25 rpm) and fermentation with Lactobacillus plantarum and L. uvarum strains for the valorisation of W to provide safer food and feed stock. The influence of different treatments on biogenic amine formation, mycotoxin content, and free amino acids, as well as acidity, microbiological parameters, and sugar concentration, were analysed. This research showed that a combination of extrusion and fermentation with selected strains can change several aspects of W characteristics. There was a significant effect of applied treatments on acidity and the microbiological parameters of W, as well as biogenic amines content. The lowest total mycotoxin concentration (29.8 µg/kg) was found in extruded (130 °C; 25 rpm) and fermented with L. uvarum sample. Finally, the combination of the abovementioned treatments can be confirmed as a prospective innovative pre-treatment for W, capable of potentially enhancing their safety characteristics and composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins: Decontamination and Adsorption)
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Open AccessEditorial
The 6th Iberian and 2nd Ibero-American Cyanotoxin Congress CIC2019
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 162; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020162 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 260
Abstract
According to genomic data, toxin cyanobacteria production is likely as old as the group itself [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Molecular Identification and Toxin Analysis of Alexandrium spp. in the Beibu Gulf: First Report of Toxic A. tamiyavanichii in Chinese Coastal Waters
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 161; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020161 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 464
Abstract
The frequency of harmful algal blooms (HABs) has increased in China in recent years. Information about harmful dinoflagellates and paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) is still limited in China, especially in the Beibu Gulf, where PSTs in shellfish have exceeded food safety guidelines on [...] Read more.
The frequency of harmful algal blooms (HABs) has increased in China in recent years. Information about harmful dinoflagellates and paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) is still limited in China, especially in the Beibu Gulf, where PSTs in shellfish have exceeded food safety guidelines on multiple occasions. To explore the nature of the threat from PSTs in the region, eight Alexandrium strains were isolated from waters of the Beibu Gulf and examined using phylogenetic analyses of large subunit (LSU) rDNA, small subunit (SSU) rDNA, and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences. Their toxin composition profiles were also determined using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). All eight strains clustered in the phylogenetic tree with A. pseudogonyaulax, A. affine, and A. tamiyavanichii from other locations, forming three well-resolved groups. The intraspecific genetic distances of the three Alexandrium species were significantly smaller than interspecific genetic distances for Alexandrium species. Beibu Gulf isolates were therefore classified as A. pseudogonyaulax, A. affine, and A. tamiyavanichii. No PSTs were identified in A. pseudogonyaulax, but low levels of gonyautoxins (GTXs) 1 to 5, and saxitoxin (STX) were detected in A. tamiyavanichii (a total of 4.60 fmol/cell). The extremely low level of toxicity is inconsistent with PST detection above regulatory levels on multiple occasions within the Beibu Gulf, suggesting that higher toxicity strains may occur in those waters, but were unsampled. Other explanations including biotransformation of PSTs in shellfish and the presence of other PST-producing algae are also suggested. Understanding the toxicity and phylogeny of Alexandrium species provides foundational data for the protection of public health in the Beibu Gulf region and the mitigation of HAB events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phycotoxins: Chemistry and Biochemistry)
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Open AccessArticle
Attempt to Develop Rat Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation Model Using Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) Venom Injection
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 160; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020160 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 382
Abstract
Disseminated intravascular coagulation, a severe clinical condition caused by an underlying disease, involves a markedly continuous and widespread activation of coagulation in the circulating blood and the formation of numerous microvascular thrombi. A snakebite, including that of the Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus), [...] Read more.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation, a severe clinical condition caused by an underlying disease, involves a markedly continuous and widespread activation of coagulation in the circulating blood and the formation of numerous microvascular thrombi. A snakebite, including that of the Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus), demonstrates this clinical condition. Thus, an animal model using Yamakagashi venom was constructed. Yamakagashi venom was administered to rats, and its lethality and the changes in blood coagulation factors were detected after venom injection. When 300 μg venom was intramuscularly administered to 12-week-old rats, (1) they exhibited hematuria with plasma hemolysis and died within 48 h; (2) Thrombocytopenia in the blood was observed in the rats; (3) irreversible prolongation of prothrombin time in the plasma to the measurement limit occurred; (4) fibrinogen concentration in the plasma irreversibly decreased below the measurement limit; and (5) A transient increase in the plasma concentration of D-dimer was observed. In this model, a fixed amount of Rhabdophis tigrinus venom injection resulted in the clinical symptom similar to the human pathology with snakebite. The use of the rat model is very effective in validating the therapeutic effect of human disseminated intravascular coagulation condition due to snakebite. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessReview
Botulinum Toxin Type A to Improve Facial Symmetry in Facial Palsy: A Practical Guideline and Clinical Experience
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 159; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020159 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
Unilateral peripheral facial nerve palsy jeopardizes quality of life, rendering psychological consequences such as low self-esteem, social isolation, anxiety, and depression. Among therapeutical approaches, use of Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) on the nonparalyzed side has shown promising results and improvement of quality [...] Read more.
Unilateral peripheral facial nerve palsy jeopardizes quality of life, rendering psychological consequences such as low self-esteem, social isolation, anxiety, and depression. Among therapeutical approaches, use of Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) on the nonparalyzed side has shown promising results and improvement of quality of life. Nevertheless, the correct technique is paramount, since over-injection of the muscles can result in lack of function, leading to a “paralyzed” appearance, and even worse, functional incompetence, which may cause greater distress to patients. Therefore, the objective of this article is to provide a practical guideline for botulinum toxin use in facial palsy. To this aim, adequate patient assessment, BoNT-A choice, injection plan and dosage, and injection techniques are covered. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Impact of Alkaloid-Producing Epichloë Endophyte on Forage Ryegrass Breeding: A New Zealand Perspective
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 158; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020158 - 18 Feb 2021
Viewed by 420
Abstract
For 30 years, forage ryegrass breeding has known that the germplasm may contain a maternally inherited symbiotic Epichloë endophyte. These endophytes produce a suite of secondary alkaloid compounds, dependent upon strain. Many produce ergot and other alkaloids, which are associated with both insect [...] Read more.
For 30 years, forage ryegrass breeding has known that the germplasm may contain a maternally inherited symbiotic Epichloë endophyte. These endophytes produce a suite of secondary alkaloid compounds, dependent upon strain. Many produce ergot and other alkaloids, which are associated with both insect deterrence and livestock health issues. The levels of alkaloids and other endophyte characteristics are influenced by strain, host germplasm, and environmental conditions. Some strains in the right host germplasm can confer an advantage over biotic and abiotic stressors, thus acting as a maternally inherited desirable ‘trait’. Through seed production, these mutualistic endophytes do not transmit into 100% of the crop seed and are less vigorous than the grass seed itself. This causes stability and longevity issues for seed production and storage should the ‘trait’ be desired in the germplasm. This makes understanding the precise nature of the relationship vitally important to the plant breeder. These Epichloë endophytes cannot be ‘bred’ in the conventional sense, as they are asexual. Instead, the breeder may modulate endophyte characteristics through selection of host germplasm, a sort of breeding by proxy. This article explores, from a forage seed company perspective, the issues that endophyte characteristics and breeding them by proxy have on ryegrass breeding, and outlines the methods used to assess the ‘trait’, and the application of these through the breeding, production, and deployment processes. Finally, this article investigates opportunities for enhancing the utilisation of alkaloid-producing endophytes within pastures, with a focus on balancing alkaloid levels to further enhance pest deterrence and improving livestock outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Impact of Ergot Alkaloids)
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Open AccessReview
Streptococcus pneumoniae and Its Virulence Factors H2O2 and Pneumolysin Are Potent Mediators of the Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Disease
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 157; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020157 - 17 Feb 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common autosomal recessive disorders in the world. Due to functional asplenia, a dysfunctional antibody response, antibiotic drug resistance and poor response to immunization, SCD patients have impaired immunity. A leading cause of hospitalization and [...] Read more.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common autosomal recessive disorders in the world. Due to functional asplenia, a dysfunctional antibody response, antibiotic drug resistance and poor response to immunization, SCD patients have impaired immunity. A leading cause of hospitalization and death in SCD patients is the acute chest syndrome (ACS). This complication is especially manifested upon infection of SCD patients with Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn)—a facultative anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium that causes lower respiratory tract infections. Spn has developed increased rates of antibiotics resistance and is particularly virulent in SCD patients. The primary defense against Spn is the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during the oxidative burst of neutrophils and macrophages. Paradoxically, Spn itself produces high levels of the ROS hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a virulence strategy. Apart from H2O2, Spn also secretes another virulence factor, i.e., the pore-forming exotoxin pneumolysin (PLY), a potent mediator of lung injury in patients with pneumonia in general and particularly in those with SCD. PLY is released early on in infection either by autolysis or bacterial lysis following the treatment with antibiotics and has a broad range of biological activities. This review will discuss recent findings on the role of pneumococci in ACS pathogenesis and on strategies to counteract the devastating effects of its virulence factors on the lungs in SCD patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins and Lung Infection)
Open AccessArticle
Mitigation Effects of Bentonite and Yeast Cell Wall Binders on AFB1, DON, and OTA Induced Changes in Laying Hen Performance, Egg Quality, and Health
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 156; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020156 - 17 Feb 2021
Viewed by 439
Abstract
The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mycotoxin binders in reducing the adverse effects of co-occurring dietary aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), deoxynivalenol (DON) and ochratoxin A (OTA) on laying hens. Three hundred and sixty 26-week-old Roman laying [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mycotoxin binders in reducing the adverse effects of co-occurring dietary aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), deoxynivalenol (DON) and ochratoxin A (OTA) on laying hens. Three hundred and sixty 26-week-old Roman laying hens were randomly allocated into four experimental groups with 10 replicates of nine birds each. The four groups received either a basal diet (BD; Control), a BD supplemented with 0.15 mg/kg AFB1 + 1.5 mg/kg DON + 0.12 mg/kg OTA (Toxins), a BD + Toxins with Toxo-HP binder (Toxins + HP), or a BD + Toxins with TOXO XL binder (Toxins + XL) for 12 weeks. Compared to the control, dietary supplementation of mycotoxins decreased (P < 0.10) total feed intake, total egg weight, and egg-laying rate, but increased feed/egg ratio by 2.5–6.1% and mortality during various experimental periods. These alterations induced by mycotoxins were alleviated by supplementation with both TOXO HP and XL binders (P < 0.10). Furthermore, dietary mycotoxins reduced (P < 0.05) eggshell strength by 12.3% and caused an accumulation of 249 μg/kg of DON in eggs at week 12, while dietary supplementation with TOXO HP or XL mitigated DON-induced changes on eggshell strength and prevented accumulation of DON in eggs (P < 0.05). Moreover, dietary mycotoxins increased relative liver weight, but decreased spleen and proventriculus relative weights by 11.6–22.4% (P < 0.05). Mycotoxin exposure also increased alanine aminotransferase activity and reduced immunoglobulin (Ig) A, IgM, and IgG concentrations in serum by 9.2–26.1% (P < 0.05). Additionally, mycotoxin exposure induced histopathological damage and reduced villus height, villus height/crypt depth, and crypt depth in duodenum, jejunum and (or) ileum (P < 0.05). Notably, most of these histological changes were mitigated by supplementation with both TOXO HP and XL (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that the mycotoxin binders TOXO HP and XL can help to mitigate the combined effects of AFB1, DON, and OTA on laying hen performance, egg quality, and health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Single and Combined Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessReview
The Central Effects of Botulinum Toxin in Dystonia and Spasticity
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 155; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020155 - 17 Feb 2021
Viewed by 448
Abstract
In dystonic and spastic movement disorders, however different in their pathophysiological mechanisms, a similar impairment of sensorimotor control with special emphasis on afferentation is assumed. Peripheral intervention on afferent inputs evokes plastic changes within the central sensorimotor system. Intramuscular application of botulinum toxin [...] Read more.
In dystonic and spastic movement disorders, however different in their pathophysiological mechanisms, a similar impairment of sensorimotor control with special emphasis on afferentation is assumed. Peripheral intervention on afferent inputs evokes plastic changes within the central sensorimotor system. Intramuscular application of botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) is a standard evidence-based treatment for both conditions. Apart from its peripheral action on muscle spindles, a growing body of evidence suggests that BoNT-A effects could also be mediated by changes at the central level including cerebral cortex. We review recent studies employing electrophysiology and neuroimaging to investigate how intramuscular application of BoNT-A influences cortical reorganization. Based on such data, BoNT-A becomes gradually accepted as a promising tool to correct the maladaptive plastic changes within the sensorimotor cortex. In summary, electrophysiology and especially neuroimaging studies with BoNT-A further our understanding of pathophysiology underlying dystonic and spastic movement disorders and may consequently help develop novel treatment strategies based on neural plasticity. Full article
Open AccessReview
Proteomic and Transcriptomic Techniques to Decipher the Molecular Evolution of Venoms
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 154; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020154 - 16 Feb 2021
Viewed by 560
Abstract
Nature’s library of venoms is a vast and untapped resource that has the potential of becoming the source of a wide variety of new drugs and therapeutics. The discovery of these valuable molecules, hidden in diverse collections of different venoms, requires highly specific [...] Read more.
Nature’s library of venoms is a vast and untapped resource that has the potential of becoming the source of a wide variety of new drugs and therapeutics. The discovery of these valuable molecules, hidden in diverse collections of different venoms, requires highly specific genetic and proteomic sequencing techniques. These have been used to sequence a variety of venom glands from species ranging from snakes to scorpions, and some marine species. In addition to identifying toxin sequences, these techniques have paved the way for identifying various novel evolutionary links between species that were previously thought to be unrelated. Furthermore, proteomics-based techniques have allowed researchers to discover how specific toxins have evolved within related species, and in the context of environmental pressures. These techniques allow groups to discover novel proteins, identify mutations of interest, and discover new ways to modify toxins for biomimetic purposes and for the development of new therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Venom Proteomics and Transcriptomics)
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Open AccessArticle
Non-Transgenic CRISPR-Mediated Knockout of Entire Ergot Alkaloid Gene Clusters in Slow-Growing Asexual Polyploid Fungi
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 153; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020153 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 438
Abstract
The Epichloë species of fungi include seed-borne symbionts (endophytes) of cool-season grasses that enhance plant fitness, although some also produce alkaloids that are toxic to livestock. Selected or mutated toxin-free endophytes can be introduced into forage cultivars for improved livestock performance. Long-read genome [...] Read more.
The Epichloë species of fungi include seed-borne symbionts (endophytes) of cool-season grasses that enhance plant fitness, although some also produce alkaloids that are toxic to livestock. Selected or mutated toxin-free endophytes can be introduced into forage cultivars for improved livestock performance. Long-read genome sequencing revealed clusters of ergot alkaloid biosynthesis (EAS) genes in Epichloë coenophiala strain e19 from tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) and Epichloë hybrida Lp1 from perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). The two homeologous clusters in E. coenophiala—a triploid hybrid species—were 196 kb (EAS1) and 75 kb (EAS2), and the E. hybrida EAS cluster was 83 kb. As a CRISPR-based approach to target these clusters, the fungi were transformed with ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes of modified Cas9 nuclease (Cas9-2NLS) and pairs of single guide RNAs (sgRNAs), plus a transiently selected plasmid. In E. coenophiala, the procedure generated deletions of EAS1 and EAS2 separately, as well as both clusters simultaneously. The technique also gave deletions of the EAS cluster in E. hybrida and of individual alkaloid biosynthesis genes (dmaW and lolC) that had previously proved difficult to delete in E. coenophiala. Thus, this facile CRISPR RNP approach readily generates non-transgenic endophytes without toxin genes for use in research and forage cultivar improvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Impact of Ergot Alkaloids)
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Open AccessArticle
Toxic Effects of Fumonisins, Deoxynivalenol and Zearalenone Alone and in Combination in Ducks Fed the Maximum EUTolerated Level
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 152; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020152 - 16 Feb 2021
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Toxic effects among fumonisins B (FB), deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN) administered alone and combined were investigated in 84-day-old ducks during force-feeding. 75 male ducks, divided into five groups of 15 animals, received daily during the meal a capsule containing the desired among [...] Read more.
Toxic effects among fumonisins B (FB), deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN) administered alone and combined were investigated in 84-day-old ducks during force-feeding. 75 male ducks, divided into five groups of 15 animals, received daily during the meal a capsule containing the desired among of toxin. Treated animals received dietary levels of toxins equivalent to 20 mg FB1+FB2/kg (FB), 5 mg DON/kg (DON), 0.5 mg ZEN/kg (ZEN) and 20, 5 and 0.5 mg/kg of FB, DON and ZEN (FBDONZEN), respectively. Control birds received capsules with no toxin. After 12 days, a decrease in body weight gain accompanied by an increase in the feed conversion ratio was observed in ducks exposed to FBDONZEN, whereas there was no effect on performances in ducks exposed to FB, DON and ZEN separately. No difference among groups was observed in relative organ weight, biochemistry, histopathology and several variables used to measure oxidative damage and testicular function. A sphinganine to sphingosine ratio of 0.32, 1.19 and 1.04, was measured in liver in controls and in ducks exposed to FB and FBDONZEN, respectively. Concentrations of FB1 in liver were 13.34 and 15.4 ng/g in ducks exposed to FB and FBDONZEN, respectively. Together ZEN and its metabolites were measured after enzymatic hydrolysis of the conjugated forms. Mean concentrations of α-zearalenol in liver were 0.82 and 0.54 ng/g in ducks exposed to ZEN and FBDONZEN, respectively. β-zearalenol was 2.3-fold less abundant than α-zearalenol, whereas ZEN was only found in trace amounts. In conclusion, this study suggests that decreased performance may occur in ducks exposed to a combination of FB, DON and ZEN, but does not reveal any other interaction between mycotoxins in any of the other variables measured. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Mycotoxins on Health and Performance in Animals)
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Open AccessReview
The Buzz about ADP-Ribosylation Toxins from Paenibacillus larvae, the Causative Agent of American Foulbrood in Honey Bees
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 151; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020151 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 443
Abstract
The Gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae is the etiological agent of American Foulbrood, a highly contagious and often fatal honey bee brood disease. The species P. larvae comprises five so-called ERIC-genotypes which differ in virulence and pathogenesis strategies. In the past two decades, [...] Read more.
The Gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae is the etiological agent of American Foulbrood, a highly contagious and often fatal honey bee brood disease. The species P. larvae comprises five so-called ERIC-genotypes which differ in virulence and pathogenesis strategies. In the past two decades, the identification and characterization of several P. larvae virulence factors have led to considerable progress in understanding the molecular basis of pathogen-host-interactions during P. larvae infections. Among these virulence factors are three ADP-ribosylating AB-toxins, Plx1, Plx2, and C3larvin. Plx1 is a phage-born toxin highly homologous to the pierisin-like AB-toxins expressed by the whites-and-yellows family Pieridae (Lepidoptera, Insecta) and to scabin expressed by the plant pathogen Streptomyces scabiei. These toxins ADP-ribosylate DNA and thus induce apoptosis. While the presumed cellular target of Plx1 still awaits final experimental proof, the classification of the A subunits of the binary AB-toxins Plx2 and C3larvin as typical C3-like toxins, which ADP-ribosylate Rho-proteins, has been confirmed experimentally. Normally, C3-exoenzymes do not occur together with a B subunit partner, but as single domain toxins. Interestingly, the B subunits of the two P. larvae C3-like toxins are homologous to the B-subunits of C2-like toxins with striking structural similarity to the PA-63 protomer of Bacillus anthracis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Structure and Function of Bacterial ADP-Ribosylation Toxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Exposure to Mycotoxins in Spanish Children through the Analysis of Their Levels in Plasma Samples
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 150; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020150 - 15 Feb 2021
Viewed by 433
Abstract
In this study, we present, for the first time in Spain, the levels of 19 mycotoxins in plasma samples from healthy and sick children (digestive, autism spectrum (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorders) (n = 79, aged 2–16). The samples were [...] Read more.
In this study, we present, for the first time in Spain, the levels of 19 mycotoxins in plasma samples from healthy and sick children (digestive, autism spectrum (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorders) (n = 79, aged 2–16). The samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (triple quadrupole) (LC-MS/MS). To detect Phase II metabolites, the samples were reanalyzed after pre-treatment with β-glucuronidase/arylsulfatase. The most prevalent mycotoxin was ochratoxin A (OTA) in all groups of children, before and after enzyme treatment. In healthy children, the incidence of OTA was 92.5% in both cases and higher than in sick children before (36.7% in digestive disorders, 50% in ASD, and 14.3% in ADHD) and also after the enzymatic treatment (76.6 % in digestive disorders, 50% in ASD, and 85.7% in ADHD). OTA levels increased in over 40% of healthy children after enzymatic treatment, and this increase in incidence and levels was also observed in all sick children. This suggests the presence of OTA conjugates in plasma. In addition, differences in OTA metabolism may be assumed. OTA levels are higher in healthy children, even after enzymatic treatment (mean OTA value for healthy children 3.29 ng/mL, 1.90 ng/mL for digestive disorders, 1.90 ng/mL for ASD, and 0.82 ng/mL for ADHD). Ochratoxin B appears only in the samples of healthy children with a low incidence (11.4%), always co-occurring with OTA. Sterigmatocystin (STER) was detected after enzymatic hydrolysis with a high incidence in all groups, especially in sick children (98.7% in healthy children and 100% in patients). This supports glucuronidation as a pathway for STER metabolism in children. Although other mycotoxins were studied (aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2, and M1; T-2 and HT-2 toxins; deoxynivalenol, deepoxy-deoxynivalenol, 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol, 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol; zearalenone; nivalenol; fusarenon-X; neosolaniol; and diacetoxyscirpenol), they were not detected either before or after enzymatic treatment in any of the groups of children. In conclusion, OTA and STER should be highly considered in the risk assessment of mycotoxins. Studies concerning their sources of exposure, toxicokinetics, and the relationship between plasma levels and toxic effects are of utmost importance in children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomonitoring of Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessReview
Real Impact of Novel Immunotherapy Drugs in Cancer. The Experience of 10 Last Years
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 149; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020149 - 15 Feb 2021
Viewed by 669
Abstract
Intense research on immunotherapy has been conducted during recent years. As advances in the field have started changing the landscape of cancer therapy, it is necessary to assess the impact of immunotherapeutic modalities in the treatment of various cancers. Ten years ago, in [...] Read more.
Intense research on immunotherapy has been conducted during recent years. As advances in the field have started changing the landscape of cancer therapy, it is necessary to assess the impact of immunotherapeutic modalities in the treatment of various cancers. Ten years ago, in 2011, ipilimumab was the first of the newest immunotherapeutic drugs against cancer to be approved by the FDA. Then several drugs followed and formed a therapeutic arsenal to fight cancer. Initial studies were performed on metastatic patients, but there are currently several studies in patients with potentially curable cancers. All these developments have created a new environment for oncology which we will present in this article. This review examines the current evidence related to the impact of immunotherapy on various cancers and discusses its potential clinical and research implications, including its effectiveness in comparison to other treatment modalities (chemotherapy, radiotherapy), its toxicity and prospective research opportunities. While constant updates and further research is critical to understand the impact of immunotherapy in cancer therapy, not only does it seem to be important to assess the current state of knowledge highlighting the success but also to determine the challenging aspects of cancer immunotherapy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effectiveness of Dietary Byproduct Antioxidants on Induced CYP Genes Expression and Histological Alteration in Piglets Liver and Kidney Fed with Aflatoxin B1 and Ochratoxin A
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 148; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020148 - 15 Feb 2021
Viewed by 524
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of a byproduct mixture derived from grapeseed and sea buckthorn oil industry to mitigate the harmful damage produced by ochratoxin A and aflatoxin B1 at hepatic and renal level in piglets after weaning. [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of a byproduct mixture derived from grapeseed and sea buckthorn oil industry to mitigate the harmful damage produced by ochratoxin A and aflatoxin B1 at hepatic and renal level in piglets after weaning. Forty cross-bred TOPIGS-40 hybrid piglets after weaning were assigned to three experimental groups (E1, E2, E3) and one control group (C), and fed with experimental diets for 30 days. The basal diet was served as a control and contained normal compound feed for starter piglets without mycotoxins. The experimental groups were fed as follows: E1—basal diet plus a mixture (1:1) of two byproducts (grapeseed and sea buckthorn meal); E2—the basal diet experimentally contaminated with mycotoxins (479 ppb OTA and 62ppb AFB1); and E3—basal diet containing 5% of the mixture (1:1) of grapeseed and sea buckthorn meal and contaminated with the mix of OTA and AFB1. After 4 weeks, the animals were slaughtered, and tissue samples were taken from liver and kidney in order to perform gene expression and histological analysis. The gene expression analysis showed that when weaned piglets were fed with contaminated diet, the expression of most analyzed genes was downregulated. Among the CYP450 family, CYP1A2 was the gene with the highest downregulation. According to these results, in liver, we found that mycotoxins induced histomorphological alterations in liver and kidney and had an effect on the expression level of CYP1A2, CYP2A19, CYP2E1, and CYP3A29, but we did not detect important changes in the expression level of CY4A24, MRP2 and GSTA1 genes. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Cell-Penetrating Peptides Derived from Animal Venoms and Toxins
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 147; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020147 - 15 Feb 2021
Viewed by 568
Abstract
Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) comprise a class of short polypeptides that possess the ability to selectively interact with the cytoplasmic membrane of certain cell types, translocate across plasma membranes and accumulate in the cell cytoplasm, organelles (e.g., the nucleus and mitochondria) and other subcellular [...] Read more.
Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) comprise a class of short polypeptides that possess the ability to selectively interact with the cytoplasmic membrane of certain cell types, translocate across plasma membranes and accumulate in the cell cytoplasm, organelles (e.g., the nucleus and mitochondria) and other subcellular compartments. CPPs are either of natural origin or de novo designed and synthesized from segments and patches of larger proteins or designed by algorithms. With such intrinsic properties, along with membrane permeation, translocation and cellular uptake properties, CPPs can intracellularly convey diverse substances and nanomaterials, such as hydrophilic organic compounds and drugs, macromolecules (nucleic acids and proteins), nanoparticles (nanocrystals and polyplexes), metals and radionuclides, which can be covalently attached via CPP N- and C-terminals or through preparation of CPP complexes. A cumulative number of studies on animal toxins, primarily isolated from the venom of arthropods and snakes, have revealed the cell-penetrating activities of venom peptides and toxins, which can be harnessed for application in biomedicine and pharmaceutical biotechnology. In this review, I aimed to collate examples of peptides from animal venoms and toxic secretions that possess the ability to penetrate diverse types of cells. These venom CPPs have been chemically or structurally modified to enhance cell selectivity, bioavailability and a range of target applications. Herein, examples are listed and discussed, including cysteine-stabilized and linear, α-helical peptides, with cationic and amphipathic character, from the venom of insects (e.g., melittin, anoplin, mastoparans), arachnids (latarcin, lycosin, chlorotoxin, maurocalcine/imperatoxin homologs and wasabi receptor toxin), fish (pardaxins), amphibian (bombesin) and snakes (crotamine and cathelicidins). Full article
Open AccessArticle
ERK and mTORC1 Inhibitors Enhance the Anti-Cancer Capacity of the Octpep-1 Venom-Derived Peptide in Melanoma BRAF(V600E) Mutations
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 146; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020146 - 14 Feb 2021
Viewed by 532
Abstract
Melanoma is the main cause of skin cancer deaths, with special emphasis in those cases carrying BRAF mutations that trigger the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling and unrestrained cell proliferation in the absence of mitogens. Current therapies targeting MAPK are hindered by drug [...] Read more.
Melanoma is the main cause of skin cancer deaths, with special emphasis in those cases carrying BRAF mutations that trigger the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling and unrestrained cell proliferation in the absence of mitogens. Current therapies targeting MAPK are hindered by drug resistance and relapse that rely on metabolic rewiring and Akt activation. To identify new drug candidates against melanoma, we investigated the molecular mechanism of action of the Octopus Kaurna-derived peptide, Octpep-1, in human BRAF(V600E) melanoma cells using proteomics and RNAseq coupled with metabolic analysis. Fluorescence microscopy verified that Octpep-1 tagged with fluorescein enters MM96L and NFF cells and distributes preferentially in the perinuclear area of MM96L cells. Proteomics and RNAseq revealed that Octpep-1 targets PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling in MM96L cells. In addition, Octpep-1 combined with rapamycin (mTORC1 inhibitor) or LY3214996 (ERK1/2 inhibitor) augmented the cytotoxicity against BRAF(V600E) melanoma cells in comparison with the inhibitors or Octpep-1 alone. Octpep-1-treated MM96L cells displayed reduced glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration when combined with LY3214996. Altogether these data support Octpep-1 as an optimal candidate in combination therapies for melanoma BRAF(V600E) mutations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Their Components: Molecular Mechanisms of Action)
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Open AccessReview
Toxic Animal-Based Medicinal Materials Can Be Effective in Treating Endometriosis: A Scoping Review
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 145; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020145 - 14 Feb 2021
Viewed by 505
Abstract
Animal toxins and venoms have recently been developed as cancer treatments possessing tumor cell growth-inhibitory, antiangiogenesis, and proapoptotic effects. Endometriosis is a common benign gynecological disorder in reproductive-age women, and no definite treatment for this disorder is without severe side effects. As endometriosis [...] Read more.
Animal toxins and venoms have recently been developed as cancer treatments possessing tumor cell growth-inhibitory, antiangiogenesis, and proapoptotic effects. Endometriosis is a common benign gynecological disorder in reproductive-age women, and no definite treatment for this disorder is without severe side effects. As endometriosis and malignant tumors share similar characteristics (progressive, invasive, estrogen-dependent growth, and recurrence), animal toxins and venoms are thought to be effective against endometriosis. The objective of this study was to outline studies using toxic animal-based medicinal materials (TMM) as endometriosis treatment and to explore its clinical applicability. Preclinical and clinical studies using TMM were searched for in four databases from inception to October 2020. A total of 20 studies of TMM on endometriosis were included. In eight clinical studies, herbal medicines containing TMM were effective in relieving symptoms of endometriosis, with no side effects. In twelve experimental studies, the main therapeutic mechanisms of TMM against endometriosis were proapoptotic, antiangiogenesis, estrogen level-reducing, and possible anti-inflammatory effects. TMM are thus considered promising sources for the development of an effective treatment method for endometriosis. Further studies are needed to clarify the therapeutic mechanism of TMM against endometriosis and to provide sufficient grounds for clinical application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drug Development Using Natural Toxins)
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Open AccessArticle
Incentives to Stimulate European Wheat Farmers to Adapt Their Fusarium Species Mycotoxin Management
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 144; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020144 - 14 Feb 2021
Viewed by 425
Abstract
Fusarium species infection in wheat can lead to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and contamination with mycotoxins. To fully exploit more recent insights into FHB and mycotoxin management, farmers might need to adapt their agronomic management, which can be stimulated through incentives. This study [...] Read more.
Fusarium species infection in wheat can lead to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and contamination with mycotoxins. To fully exploit more recent insights into FHB and mycotoxin management, farmers might need to adapt their agronomic management, which can be stimulated through incentives. This study aimed to identify incentives to stimulate European farmers to adapt their agronomic management to reduce FHB and related mycotoxins in wheat. A questionnaire was distributed among 224 wheat farmers from Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, and the United Kingdom. Using the respondents’ data, Bayesian Network modelling was applied to estimate the probability that farmers would adapt their current agronomic management under eight different incentives given the conditions set by their farm and farmer characteristics. Results show that most farmers would adapt their current agronomic management under the incentives “paid extra when wheat contains low levels of mycotoxins” and “wheat is tested for the presence of mycotoxins for free”. The most effective incentive depended on farm and farmer characteristics, such as country, crop type, size of arable land, soil type, education, and mycotoxin knowledge. Insights into the farmer characteristics related to incentives can help stakeholders in the wheat supply chain, such as farmer cooperatives and the government, to design tailor-made incentive plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occurrence and Integrated Management of Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessCommunication
Fungi–Bacteria Correlation in Alcoholic Hepatitis Patients
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 143; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020143 - 14 Feb 2021
Viewed by 477
Abstract
Alcohol-related liver disease is one of the most prevalent types of chronic liver diseases globally. Alcohol-related liver disease begins with fatty liver, which further develops into hepatic inflammation, hepatocyte injury, and progresses to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Compositional changes of gut bacteria and fungi [...] Read more.
Alcohol-related liver disease is one of the most prevalent types of chronic liver diseases globally. Alcohol-related liver disease begins with fatty liver, which further develops into hepatic inflammation, hepatocyte injury, and progresses to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Compositional changes of gut bacteria and fungi were found in patients with alcohol-related liver disease. However, the functional changes of fungi and correlations between fungi and bacteria have not been investigated. In this study, we first examined the functional capacity of fungi in patients with alcohol-related liver disease using shotgun metagenomics. Among 24 MetaCyc pathways contributed by fungi, superpathway of allantoin degradation in yeast was enriched in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. Furthermore, we compared the predictive power of bacteria versus fungi and found that bacteria performed better than fungi to separate patients with alcoholic hepatitis from non-alcoholic controls and patients with alcohol use disorder. Finally, we investigated the associations between the intestinal fungi and bacteria in alcoholic hepatitis patients. Positive association between fungi and bacteria was found between Cladosporium and Gemmiger, meanwhile negative association was found between Cryptococcus and Pseudomonas in alcoholic hepatitis patients. Full article
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