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Cytotoxic and immunotoxic effects of Fusarium mycotoxins using a rapid colorimetric bioassay

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A colorimetric MTT (tetrazolium salt) cleavage test was used to evaluate cytotoxicity of twenty-three Fusarium mycotoxins on two cultured human cell lines (K-562 and MIN-GL1) as well as their inhibitory effect on proliferation of phytohemagglutinin-stimulated human peripheral blood lymphocytes. The values of 50% inhibition of lymphocyte blastogenesis were very close to the 50% cytotoxic doses observed with the more sensitive cell line (MIN-GL1). T-2 toxin was the most cytotoxic with CD50 and ID50 values less than 1 ng/ml. Type A trichothecenes were the most cytotoxic followed by the type B trichothecenes; the non-trichothecenes were the least cytotoxic. The MTT cleavage test, in conjunction with cell culture, is a simple and rapid bioassay to evaluate cytotoxicity and immunotoxicity of Fusarium mycotoxins.

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HT-2 toxin


mononuclear cell


3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide






4,8-diacetoxy T-2 tetraol


phosphate buffered saline


tetraacetoxy T-2 tetraol


T-2 toxin


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Visconti, A., Minervini, F., Lucivero, G. et al. Cytotoxic and immunotoxic effects of Fusarium mycotoxins using a rapid colorimetric bioassay. Mycopathologia 113, 181–186 (1991).

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