Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Toxicity


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by standardized criteria of qualitative impairments in social interaction, qualitative impairments in communication, and restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. A significant number of children diagnosed with ASD suffer a loss of previously-acquired skills, which is suggestive of neurodegeneration or a type of progressive encephalopathy with an etiological pathogenic basis occurring after birth. To date, the etiology of ASD remains under debate, however, many studies suggest toxicity, especially from mercury (Hg), in individuals diagnosed with an ASD. The present study evaluated concerns about the toxic effects of organic-Hg exposure from Thimerosal (49.55% Hg by weight) in childhood vaccines by conducting a two-phased (hypothesis generating/hypothesis testing) study with documented exposure to varying levels of Thimerosal from vaccinations.

Concepts: Immune system, Vaccine, Vaccination, Greek loanwords, Autism, Mercury, Toxicity, Autism spectrum


Aluminium adjuvants remain the most widely used and effective adjuvants in vaccination and immunotherapy. Herein, the particle size distribution (PSD) of aluminium oxyhydroxide and aluminium hydroxyphosphate adjuvants was elucidated in attempt to correlate these properties with the biological responses observed post vaccination. Heightened solubility and potentially the generation of Al(3+) in the lysosomal environment were positively correlated with an increase in cell mortality in vitro, potentially generating a greater inflammatory response at the site of simulated injection. The cellular uptake of aluminium based adjuvants (ABAs) used in clinically approved vaccinations are compared to a commonly used experimental ABA, in an in vitro THP-1 cell model. Using lumogallion as a direct-fluorescent molecular probe for aluminium, complemented with transmission electron microscopy provides further insight into the morphology of internalised particulates, driven by the physicochemical variations of the ABAs investigated. We demonstrate that not all aluminium adjuvants are equal neither in terms of their physical properties nor their biological reactivity and potential toxicities both at the injection site and beyond. High loading of aluminium oxyhydroxide in the cytoplasm of THP-1 cells without immediate cytotoxicity might predispose this form of aluminium adjuvant to its subsequent transport throughout the body including access to the brain.

Concepts: Immune system, Electron, Cell, Immunology, Microscope, Particle size distribution, Toxicity, Particulates


Extracellular plaques of amyloid-β and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles made from tau are the histopathological signatures of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques comprise amyloid-β fibrils that assemble from monomeric and oligomeric intermediates, and are prognostic indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the importance of plaques to Alzheimer’s disease, oligomers are considered to be the principal toxic forms of amyloid-β. Interestingly, many adverse responses to amyloid-β, such as cytotoxicity, microtubule loss, impaired memory and learning, and neuritic degeneration, are greatly amplified by tau expression. Amino-terminally truncated, pyroglutamylated (pE) forms of amyloid-β are strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, are more toxic than amyloid-β, residues 1-42 (Aβ(1-42)) and Aβ(1-40), and have been proposed as initiators of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Here we report a mechanism by which pE-Aβ may trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Aβ(3(pE)-42) co-oligomerizes with excess Aβ(1-42) to form metastable low-n oligomers (LNOs) that are structurally distinct and far more cytotoxic to cultured neurons than comparable LNOs made from Aβ(1-42) alone. Tau is required for cytotoxicity, and LNOs comprising 5% Aβ(3(pE)-42) plus 95% Aβ(1-42) (5% pE-Aβ) seed new cytotoxic LNOs through multiple serial dilutions into Aβ(1-42) monomers in the absence of additional Aβ(3(pE)-42). LNOs isolated from human Alzheimer’s disease brain contained Aβ(3(pE)-42), and enhanced Aβ(3(pE)-42) formation in mice triggered neuron loss and gliosis at 3 months, but not in a tau-null background. We conclude that Aβ(3(pE)-42) confers tau-dependent neuronal death and causes template-induced misfolding of Aβ(1-42) into structurally distinct LNOs that propagate by a prion-like mechanism. Our results raise the possibility that Aβ(3(pE)-42) acts similarly at a primary step in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neuron, Polymer chemistry, Monomer, Acetylcholine, Toxicity, Oligomer, Neurofibrillary tangle


Our previous studies have confirmed that the crude tentacle-only extract (cTOE) from the jellyfish Cyanea capillata (Cyaneidae) exhibits hemolytic and cardiovascular toxicities simultaneously. So, it is quite difficult to discern the underlying active component responsible for heart injury caused by cTOE. The inactivation of the hemolytic toxicity from cTOE accompanied with a removal of plenty of precipitates would facilitate the separation of cardiovascular component and the investigation of its cardiovascular injury mechanism. In our research, after the treatment of one-step alkaline denaturation followed by twice dialysis, the protein concentration of the treated tentacle-only extract (tTOE) was about 1/3 of cTOE, and SDS-PAGE showed smaller numbers and lower density of protein bands in tTOE. The hemolytic toxicity of tTOE was completely lost while its cardiovascular toxicity was well retained. The observations of cardiac function, histopathology and ultrastructural pathology all support tTOE with significant cardiovascular toxicity. Blood gas indexes and electrolytes changed far less by tTOE than those by cTOE, though still with significant difference from normal. In summary, the cardiovascular toxicity of cTOE can exist independently of the hemolytic toxicity and tTOE can be employed as a better venom sample for further purification and mechanism research on the jellyfish cardiovascular toxic proteins.

Concepts: Protein, Blood, Heart, Toxicity, Jellyfish, Lion's mane jellyfish, Cyaneidae, Semaeostomeae


Access to safe drinking water is a human right, crucial to combat inequalities, reduce poverty and allow sustainable development. In many areas of the world, however, this right is not guaranteed, in part because of the lack of easily deployable diagnostic tools. Low-cost and simple methods to test water supplies onsite can protect vulnerable communities from the impact of contaminants in drinking water. Ideally such devices would also be easy to dispose of so as to leave no trace, or have a detrimental effect on the environment. To this aim, we here report the first paper microbial fuel cell (pMFC) fabricated by screen-printing biodegradable carbon-based electrodes onto a single sheet of paper, and demonstrate its use as a shock sensor for bioactive compounds (e.g. formaldehyde) in water. We also show a simple route to enhance the sensor performance by folding back-to-back two pMFCs electrically connected in parallel. This promising proof of concept work can lead to a revolutionizing way of testing water at point of use, which is not only green, easy-to-operate and rapid, but is also affordable to all.

Concepts: Water, Electrochemistry, Toxicity, Electrolysis, Sustainability, Water quality, Fuel cell, Microbial fuel cell


Carbendazim (MBC) (methyl-2-benzimidazole carbamate) and tebuconazole (TBZ) ((RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-3-(1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-ylmethyl)pentan-3-ol) are widely used in agriculture for the prevention and control of fungal diseases. Solid lipid nanoparticles and polymeric nanocapsules are carrier systems that offer advantages including changes in the release profiles of bioactive compounds and their transfer to the site of action, reduced losses due to leaching or degradation, and decreased toxicity in the environment and humans. The objective of this study was to prepare these two types of nanoparticle as carrier systems for a combination of TBZ and MBC, and then investigate the release profiles of the fungicides as well as the stabilities and cytotoxicities of the formulations. Both nanoparticle systems presented high association efficiency (>99%), indicating good interaction between the fungicides and the nanoparticles. The release profiles of MBC and TBZ were modified when the compounds were loaded in the nanoparticles, and cytotoxicity assays showed that encapsulation of the fungicides decreased their toxicity. These fungicide systems offer new options for the treatment and prevention of fungal diseases in plants.

Concepts: Agriculture, Nanotechnology, Sol-gel, Cytotoxicity, Sulfur, Toxicity, Mycology, Fungicides


Concentration addition (CA) was proposed as a reasonable default approach for the ecological risk assessment of chemical mixtures. However, CA cannot predict the toxicity of mixture at some effect zones if not all components have definite effective concentrations at the given effect, such as some compounds induce hormesis. In this paper, we developed a new method for the toxicity prediction of various types of binary mixtures, an interpolation method based on the Delaunay triangulation (DT) and Voronoi tessellation (VT) as well as the training set of direct equipartition ray design (EquRay) mixtures, simply IDVequ. At first, the EquRay was employed to design the basic concentration compositions of five binary mixture rays. The toxic effects of single components and mixture rays at different times and various concentrations were determined by the time-dependent microplate toxicity analysis. Secondly, the concentration-toxicity data of the pure components and various mixture rays were acted as a training set. The DT triangles and VT polygons were constructed by various vertices of concentrations in the training set. The toxicities of unknown mixtures were predicted by the linear interpolation and natural neighbor interpolation of vertices. The IDVequ successfully predicted the toxicities of various types of binary mixtures.

Concepts: Chemical substance, Mixture, Chemical compound, Toxicity, Computational geometry, Delaunay triangulation, Voronoi diagram, CGAL


Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX) and benzalkonium chloride (BZK) formulations are frequently used as antiseptics in healthcare and consumer products. Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) contamination of pharmaceutical products could be due to the use of contaminated water in the manufacturing process, over-diluted antiseptic solutions in the product, and the use of outdated products, which in turn, reduces the antimicrobial activity of CHX and BZK. To establish a “safe use” period following opening containers of CHX and BZK, we measured the antimicrobial effects of CHX (2 ~ 10 µg/ml) and BZK (10 ~ 50 µg/ml) at sub-lethal concentrations on six strains of Burkholderia cenocepacia using chemical and microbiological assays. CHX (2, 4 and 10 µg/ml) and BZK (10, 20 and 50 µg/ml) stored for 42 days at 23°C showed almost the same concentration and toxicity compared to freshly prepared CHX and BZK on B. cenocepacia strains. When 5 µg/ml CHX and 20 µg/ml BZK were spiked with six B. cenocepacia strains with different inoculum sizes (10⁰ ~ 10⁵CFU/mL), their toxic effects were not changed for 28 days. B. cenocepacia strains in diluted CHX and BZK were detectable at concentration up to 10² CFU/mL after incubation for 28 days at 23°C. Although abiotic and biotic changes in the toxicity of both antiseptics were not observed, our results indicate that B. cenocepacia strains could remain viable in CHX and BZK for 28 days, which in turn, indicates the importance of control measures to monitor BCC contamination in pharmaceutical products.

Concepts: Microbiology, Antiseptic, Toxicity, Disinfectant, Burkholderia, Burkholderiales, Mouthwash, Antiseptics


Timolol (generic name) is a frequently used medication for the control of glaucoma. Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a commonly used preservative in ophthalmic solutions with a broad range of antimicrobial activity; however, this nonspecificity can result in toxicity. Adverse effects attributed to BAK, including conjunctival inflammation and fibrosis, tear film instability, corneal cytotoxicity, anterior chamber inflammation, trabecular meshwork cell apoptosis, cataract development, macular edema, and even systemic effects, have been well documented. These effects can lead to ocular discomfort, poor intraocular pressure control, glaucoma surgery failure, and decreased patient compliance. BAK use in topical medications has decreased recently as newer and less toxic preservatives have become available. Yet these preservatives still exert some toxic effects, especially in patients with chronic eye disease who use multiple drops over extended periods of time. Thus, attempts to reduce overall preservative loads for patients are important, whether it be decreasing the amount of preservative, decreasing the total number of drops patients use, or eliminating preservatives entirely. A preservative-free formulation of timolol, TIMOPTIC® in OCUDOSE®, is available in unit-dose vials. Preservative-free unit-dose vials minimize toxic adverse effects and are a good option for patients with ocular surface disease, on long-term multidrop therapy, or who simply do not tolerate the effects of preservatives due to discomfort.

Concepts: Immune system, Toxicology, Eye, Intraocular pressure, Glaucoma, Ophthalmology, Toxicity, Trabecular meshwork


The major pesticides of the world are glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), and their toxicity is highly debated. To understand their mode of action, the comparative herbicidal and toxicological effects of glyphosate (G) alone and 14 of its formulations were studied in this work, as a model for pesticides. GBH are mixtures of water, with commonly 36-48% G claimed as the active principle. As with other pesticides, 10-20% of GBH consist of chemical formulants. We previously identified these by mass spectrometry and found them to be mainly families of petroleum-based oxidized molecules, such as POEA, and other contaminants. We exposed plants and human cells to the components of formulations, both mixed and separately, and measured toxicity and human cellular endocrine disruption below the direct toxicity experimentally measured threshold. G was only slightly toxic on plants at the recommended dilutions in agriculture, in contrast with the general belief. In the short term, the strong herbicidal and toxic properties of its formulations were exerted by the POEA formulant family alone. The toxic effects and endocrine disrupting properties of the formulations were mostly due to the formulants and not to G. In this work, we also identified by mass spectrometry the heavy metals arsenic, chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel, which are known to be toxic and endocrine disruptors, as contaminants in 22 pesticides, including 11 G-based ones. This could also explain some of the adverse effects of the pesticides. In in vivo chronic regulatory experiments that are used to establish the acceptable daily intakes of pesticides, G or other declared active ingredients in pesticides are assessed alone, without the formulants. Considering these new data, this assessment method appears insufficient to ensure safety. These results, taken together, shed a new light on the toxicity of these major herbicides and of pesticides in general.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Chemistry, Toxicology, Toxicity, Poison, Endocrine disruptor, Biological activity, Heavy metal music