Alternaria alternata Toxins Synergistically Activate the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Pathway In Vitro
Alternaria molds simultaneously produce a large variety of mycotoxins, of which several were previously reported to induce enzymes of phase I metabolism through aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation. Thus, we investigated the potential of naturally occurring Alternaria toxin mixtures to induce Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A1/1A2/1B1 activity. Two variants of an extract from cultured Alternaria alternata, as well as the toxins alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), altertoxin I (ATX-I),
... tertoxin I (ATX-I), and altertoxin II (ATX-II), were tested singularly and in binary mixtures applying the 7-ethoxy-resorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) assay in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Sub-cytotoxic concentrations of the two toxin mixtures, as well as ATX-I, ATX-II and AOH, exhibited dose-dependent enhancements of CYP 1 activity. ATX-I and ATX-II interacted synergistically in this respect, demonstrating the two perylene quinones as major contributors to the extract's potential. Binary mixtures between AOH and the two altertoxins respectively exhibited concentration-dependent antagonistic as well as synergistic combinatory effects. Notably, AME showed no efficacy towards EROD enzyme activity or impact on other toxins' efficacy. Hence, this study provides insights into synergistic and other combinatory effects of Alternaria toxins in natural co-occurrence scenarios in the context of AhR signalling pathway activation in breast cancer cells.