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Humoral and cellular immune responses in mice after airway administration of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab and MON810 cry1Ab-transgenic maize

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Genetically modified (GM) crops may bring new proteins with immunogenic and allergenic properties into the food and feed chains. The most commonly grown GM maize, MON810, expresses a modified version of the insecticidal Cry1Ab protein originating in the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Immune reactions following inhalation of pollen and debris from such plants have been scarcely studied. We exposed BALB/c mice to purified Cry1Ab proteins and Cry1Ab-containing MON810 plant materials by intranasal installation. No anti-Cry1Ab antibodies were detected following exposure to the plant materials. Exposure to purified Cry1Ab resulted in specific anti-Cry1Ab IgG1 and IgE production, indicating inherent immunogenicity and allergenicity. Mice exposed to leaf extracts from both MON810 and unmodified maize demonstrated influx of lymphocytes and eosinophils in the broncho-alveolar lavage, and increased cytokine release in mediastinal lymph node cells. The results indicate that the airway exposure to Cry1Ab proteins may be a route of practical relevance.
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Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis; Cry1Ab; IgE; MON810; airway allergy; mouse models

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Genøk – Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway 2: Faculty of Natural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa 3: Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway 4: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: July 4, 2015

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