Sterigmatocystin-induced cytotoxicity via oxidative stress induction in human neuroblastoma cells

Food Chem Toxicol. 2020 Feb;136:110956. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2019.110956. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Sterigmatocystin (STE) is a mycotoxin produced by fungi of the genus Aspergillus. Considering that the effect of STE on neuronal system has not been well studied, the aim of the present study consists to investigate the cytotoxic effects of STE in human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cells. Moreover, the role of oxidative stress and intracellular defense systems was assessed by evaluating reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, lipid peroxidation (LPO) and antioxidant no-enzymatic (GSH) levels and enzymatic (GPx, GST, CAT and SOD) activity. Our results revealed that STE decreased cell viability in a dose and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, after 24 h of exposure, STE induced an increase in ROS generation and LPO at all concentrations tested (0.78, 1.56 and 3.12 μM), as well as a depletion of GSH levels, an increase in GSSG content and a decrease in GSH/GSSG ratio at the highest concentrations. The activity of all antioxidant enzymes resulted to be also decreased. Additionally, an enhance of the oxidative damage was caused by BSO, a GSH depletor, while NAC, a GSH precursor, showed a scavenger activity. Our findings suggest that STE could injure SH-SY5Y cells via oxidative stress and highlight the antioxidant role of the glutathione system.

Keywords: Cytotoxicity; Glutathione; Oxidative stress; SH-SY5Y cells; Sterigmatocystin.

MeSH terms

  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Mycotoxins / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sterigmatocystin / toxicity*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Mycotoxins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sterigmatocystin
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione