Cytotoxicity and changes in gene expression under aluminium potassium sulfate on Spodoptera frugiperda 9 cells

Ecotoxicology. 2021 Dec;30(10):2056-2070. doi: 10.1007/s10646-021-02478-3. Epub 2021 Sep 21.


Aluminium, a substance found in large amounts in nature, has been widely used for various purposes, especially food additives. The effects of long-term and excessive exposure to aluminium on human health are receiving increasing attention. The extensive human use of aluminium food additives can also cause aluminium to enter the ecosystem, where it has significant impacts on insects. This study explored the cytotoxicity and changes in gene expression under aluminium potassium sulfate toward Spodoptera frugiperda 9 cells. We found that high concentrations of aluminium resulted in cell enlargement and cell membrane breakage, decreased cell vitality, and apoptosis. Through RNA-Seq transcriptomics, we found that aluminium ions may inhibit the expression of regulatory-associated protein of mTOR, tdIns-dependent protein kinase-1, and small heat shock proteins (heat shock 70 kDa protein and crystallin alpha B), leading to changes in mTOR-related pathways (such as the longevity regulation pathway and PI3K-Akt signalling pathway), and promoting cell apoptosis. On the other hand, aluminium ions lead to the overexpression of GSH S-transferase, prostaglandin-H2 D-isomerase and pyrimidodiazepine synthase, and induce intracellular oxidative damage, which ultimately affects cell growth and apoptosis through a series of cascade reactions.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Glutathione metabolism; SF9 cells; mTOR pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum* / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Ecosystem
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases*
  • Sf9 Cells
  • Spodoptera / genetics
  • Sulfates


  • Sulfates
  • potassium sulfate
  • Aluminum