, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 110-117

DNA breaks and cell cycle arrest induced by okadaic acid in Caco-2 cells, a human colonic epithelial cell line

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Abstract.

Okadaic acid (OA) is a shellfish toxin produced by dinoflagellates, in mussels. It is a potent tumour promoter and represents a potential threat to human health even at low concentrations. OA targets mainly the gastrointestinal tract in acute poisoning, causing diarrhoea. Therefore the present investigations were designed to study the ability of okadaic acid to induce cytotoxicity and DNA lesions in a human colonic cell line (Caco-2). Incubation of Caco-2 cells with OA (3.75–60 ng/ml, i.e 4.6×10–3–7.5×10–2 µM) causes a significant reduction in cell viability. Moreover, okadaic acid inhibits protein and DNA synthesis with, respectively, IC50 of 16 and 6.5 ng/ml after 24 h incubation. It also provokes cell cycle arrest, characterised by an increase in the number of S phase cells, correlated with a significant decrease in G0/G1 phase cells at high concentration. One of the main results obtained in these investigations is the apoptosis induced by OA in Caco-2 cells of intestinal origin, shown by DNA laddering in agarose gel electrophoresis (250–1000 base pairs). OA also induces clastogenic effects evaluated by DNA fragmentation analysis using the method of Higuchi and Aggarwal (52% for 60 ng/ml) and comet assay (increase of the frequency of comets and their tails length). Therefore, the cell death induced by OA seems clearly to be concentration-dependent after 24 h of incubation. The cytotoxic properties of okadaic acid and its ability to damage DNA result in cell death, mainly by apoptosis. Since consumption of shellfish contaminated with acceptable okadaic acid concentrations exposes colonic cells to harmful concentrations of this toxin, the possibility that OA would display its toxic effects on intestinal cells in vivo should be evaluated in human primary intestinal cells and human intestinal slices for cytotoxic effects, DNA fragmentation and apoptosis.

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