College of Veterinary Medicine, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225009, Jiangsu, China; .Jiangsu Co-innovation Center for Prevention and Control of Important Animal Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses, Yangzhou, 225009, Jiangsu, China; Joint International Research Laboratory of Agriculture and Agri-Product Safety of the Ministry of Education of China, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225009, Jiangsu, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a phenolic resorcylic acid lactone mycotoxin produced by several Fusarium species that grow on temperate and tropical crops. The number of reports documenting the immunotoxic effects of ZEA is increasing, but the underlying mechanism is not clear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ZEA on T cell chemotaxis and evaluate changes in adhesion and migration proteins associated with this process. Specifically, T cells were isolated from BALB/C mouse splenic lymphocytes, activated by concanavalin A (Con A), and then exposed to different concentrations of ZEA. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used observe the ultrastructural changes inside the cell and on the cell surface, respectively. The transwell migration assay was used to evaluate the effect of ZEA on T cell chemotaxis in the presence of CCL19 or CCL21. A confocal 3D laser was used to capture the morphology of perforated cells and western blot was used to detect the expression of proteins associated with cell migration and adhesion. Additionally, we used flow cytometry to examine the expression of chemokine receptors on T cells. Finally, the chemokine (RANTES and MIP-1α) levels secreted by T cells were assessed using cytometric bead array. Overall, our data showed that treatment with ZEA caused ultrastructural damage on the surface as well as inside of T cells. Moreover, ZEA inhibited T cell chemotaxis which was mediated by CCL19 or CCL21 and disrupted the balance of T cell subtypes. The expression of T cell adhesion and migration proteins was also inhibited by ZEA. The expression of T cell chemokine receptor as well as secretion of RANTES and MIP-1α by T cells was suppressed after ZEA treatment. In summary, our results indicate that ZEA reduced the chemotactic effect of T cells mediated by chemokines, which was likely linked to the inhibition of T cell motility and accompanied by decreased expression of adhesion and migration proteins.