Proteomic analysis of the hepatic response to a pollutant mixture in mice. The protective action of selenium

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Dec 10:903:166558. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166558. Epub 2023 Aug 24.


Metals and pharmaceuticals contaminate water and food worldwide, forming mixtures where they can interact to enhance their individual toxicity. Here we use a shotgun proteomic approach to evaluate the toxicity of a pollutant mixture (PM) of metals (As, Cd, Hg) and pharmaceuticals (diclofenac, flumequine) on mice liver proteostasis. These pollutants are abundant in the environment, accumulate in the food chain, and are toxic to humans primarily through oxidative damage. Thus, we also evaluated the putative antagonistic effect of low-dose dietary supplementation with the antioxidant trace element selenium. A total of 275 proteins were affected by PM treatment. Functional analyses revealed an increased abundance of proteins involved in the integrated stress response that promotes translation, the inflammatory response, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and the sustained expression of the antioxidative response mediated by NRF2. As a consequence, a reductive stress situation arises in the cell that inhibits the RICTOR pathway, thus activating the early stage of autophagy, impairing xenobiotic metabolism, and potentiating lipid biosynthesis and steatosis. PM exposure-induced hepato-proteostatic alterations were significantly reduced in Se supplemented mice, suggesting that the use of this trace element as a dietary supplement may at least partially ameliorate liver damage caused by exposure to environmental mixtures.

Keywords: Hepatotoxicity; Oxidative stress; Pollutant cocktail; Reductive stress; Se-supplement; Shot-gun proteomics.