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Development of an adverse outcome pathway for cranio-facial malformations: A contribution from in silico simulations and in vitro data

Metruccio, Francesca, Palazzolo, Luca, Di Renzo, Francesca, Battistoni, Maria, Menegola, Elena, Eberini, Ivano, Moretto, Angelo
Food and chemical toxicology 2020 v.140 pp. 111303
abnormal development, active sites, additive effect, adverse outcome pathways, azoles, catalytic activity, computer simulation, computer software, congenital abnormalities, fungicides, gene expression, histone deacetylase, in vitro studies, metabolism, retinoic acid, teratogenicity, valproic acid
Mixtures of substances sharing the same molecular initiating event (MIE) are supposed to induce additive effects. The proposed MIE for azole fungicides is CYP26 inhibition with retinoic acid (RA) local increase, triggering key events leading to craniofacial defects. Valproic acid (VPA) is supposed to imbalance RA-regulated gene expression trough histone deacetylases (HDACs) inhibition. The aim was to evaluate effects of molecules sharing the same MIE (azoles) and of such having (hypothetically) different MIEs but which are eventually involved in the same adverse outcome pathway (AOP). An in silico approach (molecular docking) investigated the suggested MIEs. Teratogenicity was evaluated in vitro (WEC). Abnormalities were modelled by PROAST software. The common target was the branchial apparatus. In silico results confirmed azole-related CYP26 inhibition and a weak general VPA inhibition on the tested HDACs. Unexpectedly, VPA showed also a weak, but not marginal, capability to enter the CYP 26A1 and CYP 26C1 catalytic sites, suggesting a possible role of VPA in decreasing RA catabolism, acting as an additional MIE. Our findings suggest a new more complex picture. Consequently two different AOPs, leading to the same AO, can be described. VPA MIEs (HDAC and CYP26 inhibition) impinge on the two converging AOPs.