Immunological and metabolomic impacts of administration of Cry1Ab protein and MON 810 maize in mouse

PLoS One. 2011 Jan 27;6(1):e16346. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016346.


We have investigated the immunological and metabolomic impacts of Cry1Ab administration to mice, either as a purified protein or as the Cry1Ab-expressing genetically modified (GM) MON810 maize. Humoral and cellular specific immune responses induced in BALB/cJ mice after intra-gastric (i.g.) or intra-peritoneal (i.p.) administration of purified Cry1Ab were analyzed and compared with those induced by proteins of various immunogenic and allergic potencies. Possible unintended effects of the genetic modification on the pattern of expression of maize natural allergens were studied using IgE-immunoblot and sera from maize-allergic patients. Mice were experimentally sensitized (i.g. or i.p. route) with protein extracts from GM or non-GM maize, and then anti-maize proteins and anti-Cry1Ab-induced immune responses were analyzed. In parallel, longitudinal metabolomic studies were performed on the urine of mice treated via the i.g. route. Weak immune responses were observed after i.g. administration of the different proteins. Using the i.p. route, a clear Th2 response was observed with the known allergenic proteins, whereas a mixed Th1/Th2 immune response was observed with immunogenic protein not known to be allergenic and with Cry1Ab. This then reflects protein immunogenicity in the BALB/c Th2-biased mouse strain rather than allergenicity. No difference in natural maize allergen profiles was evidenced between MON810 and its non-GM comparator. Immune responses against maize proteins were quantitatively equivalent in mice treated with MON810 vs the non-GM counterpart and no anti-Cry1Ab-specific immune response was detected in mice that received MON810. Metabolomic studies showed a slight "cultivar" effect, which represented less than 1% of the initial metabolic information. Our results confirm the immunogenicity of purified Cry1Ab without evidence of allergenic potential. Immunological and metabolomic studies revealed slight differences in mouse metabolic profiles after i.g. administration of MON810 vs its non-GM counterpart, but no significant unintended effect of the genetic modification on immune responses was seen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Allergens
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Endotoxins / administration & dosage*
  • Endotoxins / immunology
  • Endotoxins / metabolism
  • Hemolysin Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Hemolysin Proteins / immunology
  • Hemolysin Proteins / metabolism
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Metabolism
  • Metabolomics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plant Extracts / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Zea mays / immunology*
  • Zea mays / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Antibodies
  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Endotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • insecticidal crystal protein, Bacillus Thuringiensis