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Comparative liver accumulation of dioxin-like compounds in sheep and cattle: Possible role of AhR-mediated xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes

Girolami, F., Spalenza, V., Benedetto, A., Manzini, L., Badino, P., Abete, M.C., Nebbia, C.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.571 pp. 1222-1229
aflatoxins, animal products, anthelmintics, benzimidazole, biotransformation, catalytic activity, cows, drugs, enzymes, ewes, gene expression, immunoblotting, liver, messenger RNA, persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, protein synthesis, rearing, toxicity
PCDDs, PCDFs, and PCBs are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that accumulate in animal products and may pose serious health problems. Those able to bind the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), eliciting a plethora of toxic responses, are defined dioxin-like (DL) compounds, while the remainders are called non-DL (NDL). An EFSA opinion has highlighted the tendency of ovine liver to specifically accumulate DL-compounds to a greater extent than any other farmed ruminant species. To examine the possible role in such an accumulation of xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes (XME) involved in DL-compound biotransformation, liver samples were collected from ewes and cows reared in an area known for low dioxin contamination. A related paper reported that sheep livers had about 5-fold higher DL-compound concentrations than cattle livers, while the content of the six marker NDL-PCBs did not differ between species. Specimens from the same animals were subjected to gene expression analysis for AhR, AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT) and AhR-dependent oxidative and conjugative pathways; XME protein expression and activities were also investigated. Both AhR and ARNT mRNA levels were about 2-fold lower in ovine samples and the same occurred for CYP1A1 and CYP1A2, being approximately 3- and 9-fold less expressed in sheep compared to cattle, while CYP1B1 could be detectable in cattle only. The results of the immunoblotting and catalytic activity (most notably EROD) measurements of the CYP1A family enzymes were in line with the gene expression data. By contrast, phase II enzyme expression and activities in sheep were higher (UGT1A) or similar (GSTA1, NQO1) to those recorded in cattle. The overall low expression of CYP1 family enzymes in the sheep is in line with the observed liver accumulation of DL-compounds and is expected to affect the kinetics and the dynamics of other POPs such as many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as well as of toxins (e.g. aflatoxins) or drugs (e.g. benzimidazole anthelmintics) known to be metabolized by those enzymes.