A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing
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Liver represents a suitable model for monitoring the effects of a diet, due to its key role in controlling the whole metabolism. Although no direct evidence has been reported so far that genetically modified (GM) food may affect health, previous studies on hepatocytes from young female mice fed on GM soybean demonstrated nuclear modifications involving transcription and splicing pathways. In this study, the effects of this diet were studied on liver of old female mice in order to elucidate possible interference with ageing. The morpho-functional characteristics of the liver of 24-month-old mice, fed from weaning on control or GM soybean, were investigated by combining a proteomic approach with ultrastructural, morphometrical and immunoelectron microscopical analyses. Several proteins belonging to hepatocyte metabolism, stress response, calcium signalling and mitochondria were differentially expressed in GM-fed mice, indicating a more marked expression of senescence markers in comparison to controls. Moreover, hepatocytes of GM-fed mice showed mitochondrial and nuclear modifications indicative of reduced metabolic rate. This study demonstrates that GM soybean intake can influence some liver features during ageing and, although the mechanisms remain unknown, underlines the importance to investigate the long-term consequences of GM-diets and the potential synergistic effects with ageing, xenobiotics and/or stress conditions.