Modulation of DNA damage and alteration of gene expression during aflatoxicosis via dietary supplementation of Spirulina (Arthrospira) and Whey protein concentrate

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2012 May;79:294-300. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2012.01.017. Epub 2012 Feb 9.


Spirulina (SPN) and Whey protein (WPC) are being touted as functional foods with a number of health benefits. SPN is blue green algae while WPC is a protein complex derived from milk and both have strong antioxidant activity and provoke a free radical scavenging enzyme system. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the antioxidant potentials of SPN and WPC to regulate the alteration of genes' expression and counteract oxidative stress in rats during aflatoxecosis. Eighty male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into eight groups, which included the control group, the group fed with aflatoxins (AFs)-contaminated diet (2.5 mg/kg diet) for 30 day, the group treated orally with WPC (300 mg/kg b.w.), the group treated orally with SPN (50 mg/kg b.w), the group treated orally with WPC plus SPN and the groups fed with AFs-contaminated diet and treated orally with WPC, SPN and/or WPC. Oxidative stress markers and gene expression were assayed in liver and testis and the damage of DNA was evaluated by DNA fragmentation and micronucleus tests. The results demonstrated that supplementation of SPN and/or WPC reduced the oxidative stress induced by AFs as indicated by decreased lipid peroxidation level, increased glutathione content and up-regulated PHGPx gene expression. Both agents succeed to inhibit DNA damage as indicated by the down-regulation of Fas gene expression, and decreased the percentage of DNA fragmentation and micronucleated erythrocytes. Moreover, WPC was found to be effective than SPN and the combined treatment was more effective than the single treatment. It could be concluded that both SPN and WPC induced a protective action and regulated the alteration of genes expression induced by AFs; however, the combined treatment may be useful than the single treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • DNA Damage
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Poisons / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spirulina*
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Whey Proteins


  • Aflatoxins
  • Antioxidants
  • Milk Proteins
  • Poisons
  • Whey Proteins
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Glutathione