Comparative immunohistochemical analysis of ochratoxin A tumourigenesis in rats and urinary tract carcinoma in humans; mechanistic significance of p-S6 ribosomal protein expression

Toxins (Basel). 2012 Sep;4(9):643-62. doi: 10.3390/toxins4090643. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Ochratoxin A (OTA) is considered to be a possible human urinary tract carcinogen, based largely on a rat model, but no molecular genetic changes in the rat carcinomas have yet been defined. The phosphorylated-S6 ribosomal protein is a marker indicating activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin, which is a serine/threonine kinase with a key role in protein biosynthesis, cell proliferation, transcription, cellular metabolism and apoptosis, while being functionally deregulated in cancer. To assess p-S6 expression we performed immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tumours and normal tissues. Marked intensity of p-S6 expression was observed in highly proliferative regions of rat renal carcinomas and a rare angiosarcoma, all of which were attributed to prolonged exposure to dietary OTA. Only very small OTA-generated renal adenomas were negative for p-S6. Examples of rat subcutaneous fibrosarcoma and testicular seminoma, as well as of normal renal tissue, showed no or very weak positive staining. In contrast to the animal model, human renal cell carcinoma, upper urinary tract transitional cell carcinoma from cases of Balkan endemic nephropathy, and a human angiosarcoma were negative for p-S6. The combined findings are reminiscent of constitutive changes in the rat tuberous sclerosis gene complex in the Eker strain correlated with renal neoplasms, Therefore rat renal carcinogenesis caused by OTA does not obviously mimic human urinary tract tumourigenesis.

Keywords: Balkan endemic nephropathy; DNA adducts; angiosarcoma; food safety; mycotoxin; ochratoxin A; phospho-S6 ribosomal protein; renal cell carcinoma; testicular cancer; transitional cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ochratoxins*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 / metabolism*


  • Ochratoxins
  • Ribosomal Protein S6
  • ochratoxin A