The activities of the transaminases (aminotransferases) alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase in the blood (serum or plasma) are widely used as sensitive markers of possible tissue damage and, in particular for liver toxicity. On the other hand, an increase in transaminase activities is not always accompanied by findings suggestive of hepatotoxicity. Transaminases are some of the key enzymes in the gluconeogenesis and glycolysis pathways and exist in many organs and tissues which have high activities of the gluconeogenesis and glycolysis. The activities of transaminases are altered not only in the liver but also in other organs by modification of gluconeogenesis by nutritional or hormonal factors and this phenomenon leads to alteration of transaminase activity in the blood. Drugs, which are considered to directly or secondarily modify gluconeogenesis through lowering blood glucose levels or activating lipid metabolism, such as α-glucosidase inhibitors and fibrates, slightly increase transaminase activities in the blood but there is little evidence that the phenomenon is related to drug-induced liver injury (DILI). This type of elevations can be called pharmacology-related elevation. The pharmacology-related elevation of transaminase activities sometimes makes it difficult to assess precisely the potential hepatotoxicity of new investigational drugs. Considering the characteristic of transaminases, concomitant use of new biomarkers more specific to hepatic injury is needed in the assessment of DILI both in non-clinical and clinical studies. In this review, we will discuss the specificity of transaminases to DILI and future perspectives for transaminases in the estimation of risk of DILI.
We investigated the mechanism underlying intestinal cadmium (Cd) uptake based on the mediators (metal transporters) of essential elements, such as Fe, Zn, Cu, and Ca, under normal conditions in female rats. These elements interact with Cd uptake from the intestinal tract. Cd concentration at each site of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum) increased as Cd exposure increased. However, Cd concentration was the highest in the duodenum. The gene expression of ZIP14, DMT1, and ATP7A increased with increase in Cd concentration. Further, Cu concentration decreased as Cd concentration increased. In contrast, Fe concentration displayed a decreasing tendency with the increase in Cd concentration. The gene expression levels of ZIP14, DMT1, and ATP7A were positively correlated with Cd concentration. Immunohistochemical staining revealed the positive sites of ZIP14 and DMT1 scattered in the area adjacent to the goblet cells, resorbable epithelial cells, and lamina propria in the duodenum tissue, according to the increase in Cd concentration. Cd is induced to synthesize and bind to metallothionein (MT-I and -II) and accumulate in the intestinal tissues, mainly in the duodenum. Such findings suggest that Cd, a contaminant element, is taken up from the intestinal tract by multiple metal transporters such as Cu, Fe, and Zn, thereby involving in the intestinal Cd absorption.
Trimethyltin chloride (TMT) is a stabilizer by-product in the process of manufacturing plastic, which is a kind of very strong toxic substance, and has acute, cumulative and chronic toxicity. TMT may cause bradycardia in patients with occupational poisoning, the mechanism of which has not been reported. This study explored the mechanism of TMT resulting in bradycardia of C57BL/6 mice. TMT was administered to mice to measure heart rate, serum succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) level, and myocardial Na+/K+-ATPase activity and expression. The effects of TMT on myocardial apoptosis were observed by changing the expressions of caspase-3, Bax and Bcl-2 in myocardium. It was found that the heart rate and SDH activity in serum of mice gradually decreased with the increase of TMT dose compared with the control group. The activity and the expression of Na+/K+-ATPase in the heart tissue of mice exposed to TMT was measured and gradually decreased with the increase of dose and time. We measured the expression of Bcl-2, Bax, caspase-3 and cleaved caspase-3 in the heart tissues of TMT exposed mice and found that the expressions of Bax, caspase-3 and cleaved caspase-3 increased and the expressions of Bcl-2 decreased in the heart tissues of the TMT-exposed mice at different doses. With the extension of TMT exposure time, the expression of Bax and caspase-3 increased and the expression of Bcl-2 decreased in the heart tissues of TMT exposed mice. Our findings suggest the mechanisms of TMT resulting in bradycardia may be associated with the inhibited activity and decreased content of Na+/K+-ATPase, thus further leading to the changes of Bcl-2, Bax, caspase-3 and cleaved caspase-3 in the mice’s ventricular tissues.
Lead is a main threat to human health due to its neurotoxicity and the astrocyte is known to be a common deposit site of lead in vivo. However, the detailed mechanisms related to lead exposure in the astrocytes were unclear. In order to deeply investigate this issue, we used Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats and astrocytes isolated from the hippocampus of SD rats to establish the lead-exposed animal and cell models through treating with lead acetate. The expression levels of GFAP, LC3, and p62 in the rat hippocampus were detected by immunofluorescence and Western blot after lead exposure. The effects of autophagy on lead-exposed astrocytes were studied by further autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA) induction. Transmission electron microscopy was used to observe autophagosomes in astrocytes after lead acetate treatment, followed by assessing related autophagy protein markers. In addition, some inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress markers were also evaluated after lead exposure and 3-MA administration. We found that lead exposure induced activation of astrocytes, as evidenced by increased GFAP levels and GFAP-positive staining cells in the rat hippocampus. Moreover, lead exposure induced autophagy in astrocytes, as evidenced by increased LC3II and Beclin 1 protein levels and decreased p62 expression in both the rat hippocampus and astrocytes, and it was confirmed that this autophagy was activated through blocking the downstream Akt/target of the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in astrocytes. Furthermore, it was shown that treatment of lead acetate increased the release of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and the accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) in astrocytes, which could be alleviated by further 3-MA induction. Therefore, we conclude that lead exposure can induce the autophagy of astrocytes via blocking the Akt/mTOR pathway, leading to accelerated release of inflammatory factors and oxidative stress indicators in astrocytes.
Indoxyl, a derivative of indole originating from tryptophan, may undergo phase-II sulfate-conjugation pathway, thereby forming indoxyl sulfate (IS) in vivo. We previously reported that IS, a well-known uremic toxin, can increase the intracellular oxidation level and decrease the phagocytic activity in a differentiated HL-60 human macrophage cell model. Using the same cell model, the current study aimed to investigate whether indole and indoxyl (the metabolic precursors of indoxyl and IS, respectively) may cause macrophage immune dysfunction. Results obtained indicated that intracellular oxidation level and cytotoxicity markedly increased upon treatment with indole and indoxyl, in comparison with IS. Incubation of the cells with indole and indoxyl also resulted in attenuated phagocytic activity. Human serum albumin (HSA)-binding assay confirmed that tryptophan and IS, but not indole and indoxyl, could selectively bind to the site II in HSA. Collectively, the results indicated that indole and indoxyl may strongly down-regulate the phagocytic immune function of macrophages, whereas IS, formed upon sulfate conjugation of indoxyl, may exhibit enhanced HSA-binding capability, thereby reducing the adverse effects of indoxyl.
Complement component 8 γ (C8γ) is a subunit of complement protein 8 (C8), which itself is a subunit of the complement cytolytic membrane attack complex. However, C8γ is also suggested to be a carrier protein for the general clearance of endogenous and exogenous compounds because it belongs to the lipocalin family of small secreted proteins that have the common ability to bind small hydrophobic ligands. Although retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, has been suggested as a potential ligand of C8γ, it remains unclear which other substances are able to bind to C8γ as ligands. Here, we evaluated the binding affinity of several organotin compounds that are ligands of a receptor of retinoic acid, retinoid X receptor, by using radioligand binding assays. The amount of [14C]triphenyltin (TPT), a tri-substituted organotin, that bound to purified recombinant C8γ was increased with increasing protein concentration, whereas that of [3H]all-trans retinoic acid and [3H]9-cis retinoic acid was unchanged. Scatchard analysis revealed that [14C]TPT bound to C8γ with an equilibrium dissociation constant (Kd) of 56.2 ± 16.2 nM. Non-radiolabeled tributyltin (TBT), another tri-substituted organotin, blocked the binding of [14C]TPT to C8γ in a competitive manner, but non-radiolabeled mono- or di-substituted organotin compounds did not. Together, our present observations indicate that TBT and TPT, but not retinoic acid or mono- or di-substituted organotin compounds, are potent ligands of C8γ, suggesting that C8γ may be involved in the toxicities of these organotin compounds.
Acute mercury chloride (HgCl2) poisoning may lead to kidney injury, but the underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays a role in some heavy metal poisoning. Whether it mediates kidney injury in acute HgCl2 poisoning remains unknown. In this study, we examined the kidney injury and the corresponding ER stress in the mouse model of different doses of acute HgCl2 poisoning. To further confirm the role of ER stress, we tested the effects of its chemical chaperone [4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA)]. The results revealed that acute HgCl2 poisoning caused more severe kidney injury with dose on and activated ER stress, as indicated by increased expression of GRP78 and CHOP. Inhibition of ER stress restored the functional and morphological changes of kidneys, and partly attenuated renal tubular epithelial cell apoptosis. In summary, ER stress contributes to the acute kidney injury following HgCl2 poisoning, and inhibition of ER stress may alleviate the kidney injury via reducing apoptosis.