New publication - "On the mechanism of the electrophysiological changes and membrane lesions induced by asbestos fiber exposure in Xenopus laevis oocytes"

Published on Scientific Reports by dr. Annalisa Bernareggi and the research group of dr. Violetta Borelli
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The so-called amphibole asbestos fibers are enriched with mineral iron ions, able to stimulate ROS production. We recently reported that crocidolite asbestos was able to interact with the cell membranes of Xenopus laevis oocytes, to alter their electrical membrane properties. Here, we found that applied iron ions (Fe3+) or H2O2 (for ROS generation) mimicked these effects, suggesting that at least one effect of iron-containing asbestos fiber exposure was mediated by ROS production. Furthermore, combined Fe3+ and H2O2 acted synergistically, producing a membrane effect stronger than that induced by these factors alone. Similar to crocidolite, these changes peaked within 30 minutes of incubation and vanished almost completely after 120 min. However, in the presence of cytochalasin D, which inhibits membrane actin repair mechanisms, crocidolite or applied Fe3+/H2O2 invariably produced oocyte cell death. While the electrophysiological modifications induced by crocidolite suggested a modification of an intrinsic chloride ion channel, the morphological appearance of the treated oocytes also indicated the formation of membrane “pores”; the effects of asbestos exposure may therefore consist of multiple (not necessarily exclusive) underlying mechanisms. In conclusion, using Xenopus oocytes allowed us for the first time, to focus on a specific membrane effect of crocidolite asbestos exposure, which deserves to be tested also on human lung cell lines. Much available evidence suggests that asbestos fibers damage cells through the production of ROS. Our present data confirm that crocidolite fibers can indeed trigger ROS-mediated damaging effects in the oocyte cell membrane, provided iron ions and H2O2 are available for ROS production. 


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Last update: 03-07-2019 - 09:40