Repeated exposure to Ochratoxin A generates a neuroinflammatory response, characterized by neurodegenerative M1 microglial phenotype

Jenny Sandström Von Tobel, Paola Antinori, Marie Gabrielle Zurich, Robin Rosset, Michael Aschner, Florent Glück, Alexander Scherl, Florianne Monnet-Tschudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Neurotoxic effects of the environmentally abundant mycotoxin Ochratoxin A (OTA) were studied in histotypic 3D rat brain cell cultures, comprising all brain cell types. Cultures were exposed to nanomolar OTA concentrations and samples were collected 48. h after a single exposure, or after 10 days of repeated administration. OTA-induced changes in gene- and protein expression, as well as alterations in cell morphology were assessed.Forty-eight-hour OTA exposure resulted in a disruption of the neuronal cytoskeleton and reduced expression of several oligodendrocyte-specific markers indicative of demyelination. Astrocyte disturbances were revealed by a decrease in two astrocytic proteins involved in regulation of inflammatory responses, metallothioneins I and II. Repeated OTA administration induced a neuroinflammatory response, as visualized by an increase of isolectin B4 labelled cells, increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and detection of macrophagic ED1/CD68 positive cells, as well as an upregulation of neurodegenerative M1 microglial phenotype markers.Partial recovery from OTA-induced deleterious effects on oligodendrocytes and astrocytes was achieved by co-treatment with sonic hedgehog (SHH). In addition, metallothionein I and II co-treatment partially restored OTA-induced effects on oligodendrocytes after 48. h, and modulated microglial reactivity after 10 days. These results suggest that OTA-exposure affects Shh-signalling, which in turn may influence both oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. Furthermore, the primarily astrocytic proteins MTI/MTII may affect microglial activation. Thus the neuroinflammatory response appears to be downstream of OTA-induced effects on demyelination, axonal instabilities and astrocytes disturbances. In conclusion, repeated OTA-exposure induced a secondary neuroinflammatory response characterized by neurodegenerative M1 microglial activation and pro-inflammatory response that could exacerbate the neurodegenerative process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D brain cell cultures
  • Demyelination
  • M1/M2 microglial phenotypes
  • Metallothionein I and II
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Ochratoxin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Repeated exposure to Ochratoxin A generates a neuroinflammatory response, characterized by neurodegenerative M1 microglial phenotype'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this