Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 41–48

Ochratoxin A induces apoptosis in neuronal cells

  • Xiangnan Zhang
  • Christine Boesch-Saadatmandi
  • Yijia Lou
  • Siegfried Wolffram
  • Patricia Huebbe
  • Gerald Rimbach
Research Paper


The mycotoxin ochratoxin A (OTA), which is produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium subspecies, is a frequently present contaminant of food and feedstuffs. OTA exhibits a wide range of toxic activities including nephro- and hepatotoxicity. However, little is known regarding potential neurotoxic effects of OTA. In the present study primary neurons as well as SH-SY5Y neuronal cells were incubated with increasing concentrations of OTA (0.1–2.5 μmol/L). OTA treatment resulted in a dose-dependent increase in cytotoxicity in both neuronal cell types. Caspase-9 and caspase-3 were activated in response to OTA treatment. Furthermore, caspase inhibitors were effective in partly counteracting OTA induced neurocytotoxicity. OTA induced apoptosis was accompanied by a loss of mitochondria membrane potential. Overall, present data indicated that OTA is neurotoxic at relatively low concentrations. OTA induced neurotoxicity seems to be, at least party, mediated by apoptosis. OTA may contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease) in which apoptotic processes are centrally involved.


Ochratoxin A Mycotoxin Neurons Apoptosis Programmed cell death Neurotoxicity Alzheimer’s disease 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiangnan Zhang
    • 1
  • Christine Boesch-Saadatmandi
    • 2
  • Yijia Lou
    • 1
  • Siegfried Wolffram
    • 3
  • Patricia Huebbe
    • 2
  • Gerald Rimbach
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Biochemical Pharmaceutics, College of Pharmaceutical SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Human Nutrition and Food ScienceChristian Albrechts University KielKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Animal Nutrition and PhysiologyChristian Albrechts UniversityKielGermany

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