Data on neurotoxicological effects of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), also called vomitoxin, are limited. Orally exposed laboratory (mice, rats) and domestic animals (pig, chicken) show behavioural changes such as feed refusal, increased locomotor activity and aggressive behaviour, and DON plasma concentrations at ppm-level result in vomiting in pigs and humans. Preliminary observations suggest that DON can pass the blood-brain barrier, changes cytokine levels in the hyopthalamus and the dorsal vagal complex and activates the secretion of the satiety hormone cholecystokinin and the neuronal activity marker c-Fos.
The DONNER project intends therefore to combine expertise of the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) and the Institute of Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences (INCI) in, respectively, mycotoxinology and neurobiology to address the impact of low-level chronic oral DON exposure in studies with murine brain cells and in vivo in mice. Global changes within brain functional networks will be monitored at the cellular level by expression of markers of neuronal activity (c-fos, phospho-ERK) and behavioural tests. In particular, the implication of the endogenous opioid system (EOS) will be examined.
Using in vitro cell cultures and in vivo mice studies it is the aim of the project to 1) look at changes in nervous cells and functional brain networks following the chronic administration of DON and to 2) identify possible modifications in the endogenous tone of the endogenous opiod system.
The techniques required in the project are well-established at the partners' respective laboratories. However, both the establishment of nervous cell lines and the preformance of mice studies are not without challenges.
Results from this project will help to understand the observed central nervous effects of DON, which is necessary for the evaluation of health risks.