Transcriptome analysis of the human T lymphocyte cell line Jurkat and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells exposed to deoxynivalenol (DON): New mechanistic insights

Madhumohan R. Katika, Peter J. M. Hendriksen, Jia Shao, Henk van Loveren, Ad Peijnenburg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Web of Science)


Deoxynivalenol (DON) or vomitoxin is a commonly encountered type-B trichothecene mycotoxin, produced by Fusarium species predominantly found in cereals and grains. DON is known to exert toxic effects on the gastrointestinal, reproductive and neuroendocrine systems, and particularly on the immune system. Depending on dose and exposure time, it can either stimulate or suppress immune function. The main objective of this study was to obtain a deeper insight into DON-induced effects on lymphoid cells. For this, we exposed the human T-lymphocyte cell line Jurkat and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to various concentrations of DON for various times and examined gene expression changes by DNA microarray analysis. Jurkat cells were exposed to 0.25 and 0.5 mu M DON for 3, 6 and 24 h. Biological interpretation of the microarray data indicated that DON affects various processes in these cells: It upregulates genes involved in ribosome structure and function, RNA/protein synthesis and processing, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, calcium-mediated signaling, mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, the NFAT and NF-kappa B/TNF-alpha pathways, T cell activation and apoptosis. The effects of DON on the expression of genes involved in ER stress, NFAT activation and apoptosis were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Other biochemical experiments confirmed that DON activates calcium-dependent proteins such as calcineurin and M-calpain that are known to be involved in T cell activation and apoptosis. Induction of T cell activation was also confirmed by demonstrating that DON activates NFATC1 and induces its translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. For the gene expression profiling of PBMCs, cells were exposed to 2 and 4 mu M DON for 6 and 24 h. Comparison of the Jurkat microarray data with those obtained with PBMCs showed that most of the processes affected by DON in the Jurkat cell line were also affected in the PBMCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • Deoxynivalenol (DON)
  • Jurkat cells
  • Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs)
  • Microarrays
  • Immunotoxicity
  • ER stress
  • NFAT
  • NF-kappa B
  • T cell activation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Apoptosis

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