Prolonged exposure to low-dose microcystin induces nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in mice: a systems toxicology study

Authors: He, Jun; Li, Guangyu; Chen, Jun; Lin, Juan; Zeng, Cheng; Chen, Jing; Deng, Junliang; Xie, Ping

Microcystin-LR (MCLR), a cyanotoxin widely present in freshwater, has been shown to have potent acute hepatotoxicity. However, the chronic toxicity of low-dose MCLR remains confusing by traditional measurements of toxicity. This has impeded understanding of the chronic liver damage of low-dose MCLR and corresponding safety risks of the human exposure guideline value. Here, iTRAQ-based proteomics and NMR-based metabonomics were used to decipher the molecular toxicological signatures of low doses of MCLR in mice exposed to this agent for 90 days. Low levels of MCLR, even under the reported no observed adverse effect level, significantly altered hepatic protein expression, especially of proteins associated with lipid metabolism, transport, immune and proteolysis. Coherently, MCLR induced marked perturbations in lipid metabolites in both liver and serum. Integrated analysis of proteomic, metabolic, histological and cytokine profiles revealed that MCLR significantly inhibited fatty acid beta-oxidation and hepatic lipoprotein secretion and promoted hepatic inflammation, resulting in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis disease (NASH). These findings for the first time provide compelling evidence that chronic exposure to low-level MCLR can induce NASH. These results also indicate that current guidelines for MCs in drinking water may be inadequate and associated with risks to human health.

Volume: 91
Issue: 16
Pages: 465 - 480
Published Online: 2017
Full Text Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-016-1681-3