Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac toxin and protoxin do not provoke acute or chronic cytotoxicity on macrophages and leukocytes

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Abstract or Summary

The bioinsecticidal Cry1Ac proteins (protoxin and toxin) are potent immunogens that can activate macrophages by inducing upregulation of costimulatory molecules, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. Besides, by the oral route, Cry1Ac toxin is mildly allergenic and induces intestinal lymphoid hyperplasia in mice. Given the potential utility of Cry1Ac protoxin as an adjuvant, as well as the human consumption of Cry1Ac toxin in transgenic crops, it is necessary to more deeply evaluate the toxicological potential of these proteins in mammalian immune cells. Here, were used in vitro evaluations in leukocyte and macrophage cell lines to test the potential toxicity of various doses of Cry1Ac proteins, by means of Alamar Blue, MTT, Annexin V, and JC1 assays. Our results indicated that neither Cry1Ac protoxin nor toxin elicited acute toxic effects, after monitoring the cell activity for 4, 8, 10, and 24 h of exposure. By flow cytometry and confocal microscopy analysis, it was observed that neither Cry1Ac toxin nor protoxin generated mitochondrial damage or depolarization or induced apoptosis or necrosis. In conclusion, despite their immunostimulatory effects, it was demonstrated that Cry1Ac proteins did not have cytotoxic effects, even at high concentrations, in primary leukocytes or macrophages or cell lines.

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