The naturally occurring food mycotoxin fumonisin B1 impairs myelin formation in aggregating brain cell culture

Neurotoxicology. 1999 Feb;20(1):41-8.


The effects of subchronical applications of the mycotoxin Fumonisin B1 (FB1) were analyzed in vitro, using aggregating cell cultures of fetal rat telencephalon as a model. As cells in the aggregates developed from an immature state to a highly differentiated state, with synapse and compact myelin formation, it was possible to study the effects of FB1 at different developmental stages. The results showed that FB1 did not cause cell loss and it had no effects on neurons. However it decreased strongly the total content of myelin basic protein, the main constituent of the myelin sheath, during the myelination period (DIV 18-28). The loss of myelin was not accompanied by a loss of oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells. However FB1 had effects on the maturation of oligodendrocytes, as revealed by a decrease in the expression of galactocerebroside, and on the compaction of myelin, as shown by a reduction of the expression of the mnyelin/oligodendrocyte glycoprotein MOG. The content of the cytoskeletal component glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was decreased in differentiated astrocytes, exclusively, while neurons were not affected by 40 microM of FB1 applied continuously for 10 days. In summary, FB1 selectively affected glial cells. In particular, FB1 delayed oligodendrocyte development and impaired myelin formation and deposition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Carboxylic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Cell Aggregation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fumonisins*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / biosynthesis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / ultrastructure
  • Mycotoxins / pharmacology*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / biosynthesis
  • Myelin Basic Protein / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / drug effects*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Thymidine / metabolism


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Fumonisins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Mycotoxins
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • fumonisin B1
  • Thymidine