Publications by authors named "Mercy Villanueva"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Acute and long-term effects of VX in rat brain cell aggregate culture.

Toxicol In Vitro 2021 Oct 12;78:105256. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Defence Research & Development Canada, Suffield Research Centre, Box 4000, Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 8K6, Canada.

The contact poison VX (O-ethyl S-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) methylphosphonothioate) is a chemical warfare agent that is one of the most toxic organophosphorus compounds known. Its primary mechanism of toxic action is through the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase and resultant respiratory paralysis. The majority of work on VX has thus concentrated on its potent anticholinesterase activity and acute toxicity, with few studies investigating potential long-term effects. In this report we describe the effects of VX in aggregating rat brain cell cultures out to 28 days post-exposure. Cholinesterase activity was rapidly inhibited (60 min IC = 0.73 +/- 0.27 nM), but recovered towards baseline values over the next four weeks. Apoptotic cell death, as measured using caspase-3 activity was evident only at 100 μM concentrations. Cell type specific enzymatic markers (glutamine synthase, choline acetyltransferase and 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase) showed no significant changes. Total Akt levels were unchanged, while an increased phosphorylation of this protein was noted only at the highest VX concentration on the first day post-exposure. In contrast, significant and delayed (28 days post-exposure) decreases were noted in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels, a protein whose reduced levels are known to contribute to neurodegenerative disorders. These observations may indicate that the long-term effects noted in some survivors of nerve agent intoxication may be due to VX-induced declines in brain VEGF levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2021.105256DOI Listing
October 2021

Sulphur mustard induces progressive toxicity and demyelination in brain cell aggregate culture.

Neurotoxicology 2021 05 19;84:114-124. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Defence Research & Development Canada, Suffield Research Centre, Box 4000, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 8K6, Canada.

Sulphur mustard (H; bis(2-chloroethyl) sulphide) is a vesicant chemical warfare (CW) agent that has been well documented as causing acute injury to the skin, eyes and respiratory system. Although a great deal of research effort has been expended to understand how H exerts these effects, its mechanism of action is still poorly understood. At high exposures, H also causes systemic toxicity with chronic and long-term effects to the immune, cardiovascular and central nervous systems, and these aspects of H poisoning are much less studied and comprehended. Rat aggregate cultures comprised of multiple brain cell types were exposed to H and followed for four weeks post-exposure to assess neurotoxicity. Toxicity (LDH, caspase-3 and aggregate diameter) was progressive with time post-exposure. In addition, statistically significant changes in neurofilament heavy chain (NFH), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), Akt phosphorylation, IL-6, GRO-KC and TNF-α were noted that were time- and concentration-dependent. Myelin basic protein, CNPase and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were found to be especially sensitive to H exposure in a time- and concentration-dependent fashion, with levels falling to ∼50 % of control values at ∼10 μM H by 8 days post-exposure. Demyelination and VEGF inhibition may be causal in the long-term neuropsychological illnesses that have been documented in casualties exposed to high concentrations of H, and may also play a role in the peripheral neuropathy that has been observed in some of these individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2021.03.004DOI Listing
May 2021

Primary Blast Causes Delayed Effects without Cell Death in Shell-Encased Brain Cell Aggregates.

J Neurotrauma 2018 01 14;35(1):174-186. Epub 2017 Sep 14.

1 Defence Research and Development Canada, Suffield Research Center , Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada .

Previous work in this laboratory used underwater explosive exposures to isolate the effects of shock-induced principle stress without shear on rat brain aggregate cultures. The current study has utilized simulated air blast to expose aggregates in suspension and enclosed within a spherical shell, enabling the examination of a much more complex biomechanical insult. Culture medium-filled spheres were exposed to single pulse overpressures of 15-30 psi (∼6-7 msec duration) and measurements within the sphere at defined sites showed complex and spatially dependent pressure changes. When brain aggregates were exposed to similar conditions, no cell death was observed and no changes in several commonly used biomarkers of traumatic brain injury (TBI) were noted. However, similarly to underwater blast, immediate and transient increases in the protein kinase B signaling pathway were observed at early time-points (3 days). In contrast, the oligodendrocyte marker 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase, as well as vascular endothelial growth factor, both displayed markedly delayed (14-28 days) and pressure-dependent responses. The imposition of a spherical shell between the single pulse shock wave and the target brain tissue introduces greatly increased complexity to the insult. This work shows that brain tissue can not only discriminate the nature of the pressure changes it experiences, but that a portion of its response is significantly delayed. These results have mechanistic implications for the study of primary blast-induced TBI and also highlight the importance of rigorously characterizing the actual pressure variations experienced by target tissue in primary blast studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2016.4961DOI Listing
January 2018

Comparative toxicity of mono- and bifunctional alkylating homologues of sulphur mustard in human skin keratinocytes.

Toxicology 2017 05 8;382:36-46. Epub 2017 Mar 8.

Defence Research & Development Canada, Suffield Research Center, Box 4000, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 8K6, Canada.

Sulphur mustard (bis(2-chloroethyl) sulphide; agent H) is a vesicant chemical warfare (CW) agent whose mechanism of action is not known with any certainty and for which there are no effective antidotes. It has a pronounced latent period before signs and symptoms of poisoning appear which it shares with the nitrogen mustards, and that differentiates it from other classes of vesicant agents. Sulphur mustard, the sulphur mustard CW agents Q (1,2-bis(2-chloroethylthio) ethane) and T (1,1 bis(2-chloroethylthioethyl) ether), the H partial hydrolysis product hemi-sulphur mustard (2-chloroethyl 2-hydroxyethyl sulphide; HSM), and the commercially available 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulphide (CEES) were characterized with respect to their toxicity in first passage cultures of proliferating human skin keratinocytes, the target cell of H-induced skin vesication. Agents H and T were equitoxic and half as toxic as agent Q. Hemi-sulphur mustard and CEES were approximately six times and seventeen times, respectively less cytotoxic than H. 2-Chloroethyl ethyl sulphide was only slightly less toxic in confluent cultures compared to actively proliferating cells. In contrast, the toxicity of H, Q, T and HSM significantly decreased as the cultures became confluent, paralleling the decreasing sensitivity of skin keratinocytes to H as they leave the basement membrane of the skin. The toxicity of CEES was maximal by 24h. In contrast, the maximal toxicity of the other four agents occurred at 48h, mirroring the latent period observed for these agents in vivo. The markedly different characteristics of toxicity between CEES and the other four test compounds indicate that it is likely that different mechanisms of action are operative between them. Caution should therefore be taken when interpreting the results of studies utilizing CEES as a simulant for the mechanistic study of H, or in the elucidation of medical countermeasures against this CW agent. It is also notable that the toxicity characteristics of the mono-alkylating HSM mirrors those of H, Q and T, suggesting that the bi-alkylating characteristics of these latter compounds may not play as large a role in their toxic effects as commonly thought.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2017.03.005DOI Listing
May 2017

The Effect of Underwater Blast on Aggregating Brain Cell Cultures.

J Neurotrauma 2017 01 8;34(2):517-528. Epub 2016 Jul 8.

1 Defence Research and Development Canada, Suffield Research Center , Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada .

Although the deleterious effects of primary blast on gas-filled organs are well accepted, the effect of blast-induced shock waves on the brain is less clear because of factors that complicate the interpretation of clinical and experimental data. Brain cell aggregate cultures are comprised of multiple differentiated brain cell types and were used to examine the effects of underwater blast. Suspensions of these cultures encased in dialysis tubing were exposed to explosive-generated underwater blasts of low (∼300 kPa), medium (∼2,700 kPa), or high (∼14,000 kPa) intensities and harvested at 1-28 days post-exposure. No changes in gross morphology were noted immediately or weeks after blast wave exposure, and no increases in either apoptotic (caspase-3) or necrotic (lactate dehydrogenase) cell death were observed. Changes in neuronal (neurofilament H, acetylcholinesterase, and choline acetyltransferase) and glial (glial fibrillary acidic protein, glutamine synthetase) endpoints did not occur. However, significant time- and pressure-related increases in Akt (protein kinase B) phosphorylation were noted, as well as declines in vascular endothelial growth factor levels, implicating pathways involved in cellular survival mechanisms. The free-floating nature of the aggregates during blast wave exposure, coupled with their highly hydrolyzed dialysis tubing containment, results in minimized boundary effects, thus enabling accurate assessment of brain cell response to a simplified shock-induced stress wave. This work shows that, at its simplest, blast-induced shock waves produce subtle changes in brain tissue. This study has mechanistic implications for the study of primary blast-induced traumatic brain injury and supports the thesis that underwater blast may cause subtle changes in the brains of submerged individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2016.4430DOI Listing
January 2017

High-Fidelity Simulation of Primary Blast: Direct Effects on the Head.

J Neurotrauma 2016 07 16;33(13):1181-93. Epub 2016 Mar 16.

3 Canada West Biosciences , Calgary, Alberta, Canada .

The role of primary blast in blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) is controversial in part due to the technical difficulties of generating free-field blast conditions in the laboratory. The use of traditional shock tubes often results in artifacts, particularly of dynamic pressure, whereas the forces affecting the head are dependent on where the animal is placed relative to the tube, whether the exposure is whole-body or head-only, and on how the head is actually exposed to the insult (restrained or not). An advanced blast simulator (ABS) has been developed that enables high-fidelity simulation of free-field blastwaves, including sharply defined static and dynamic overpressure rise times, underpressures, and secondary shockwaves. Rats were exposed in head-only fashion to single-pulse blastwaves of 15 to 30 psi static overpressure. Head restraints were configured so as to eliminate concussive and minimize whiplash forces exerted on the head, as shown by kinematic analysis. No overt signs of trauma were present in the animals post-exposure. However, significant changes in brain 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphohydrolase (CNPase) and neurofilament heavy chain levels were evident by 7 days. In contrast to most studies of primary blast-induced TBI (PbTBI), no elevation of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) levels was noted when head movement was minimized. The ABS described in this article enables the generation of shockwaves highly representative of free-field blast. The use of this technology, in concert with head-only exposure, minimized head movement, and the kinematic analysis of the forces exerted on the head provide convincing evidence that primary blast directly causes changes in brain function and that GFAP may not be an appropriate biomarker of PbTBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2015.3914DOI Listing
July 2016

pH-dependent toxicity of sulphur mustard in vitro.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2007 Jun 27;221(3):363-71. Epub 2007 Mar 27.

Chemical Biological Defence Section, Defence Research and Development Canada - Suffield, Box 4000, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada T1A 8K6.

The dependence of sulphur mustard (HD) toxicity on intracellular (pH(i)) and extracellular pH was examined in CHO-K1 cells. HD produced an immediate and significant concentration-dependent decline in cytosolic pH, and also inhibited the mechanisms responsible for restoring pH(i) to physiological values. The concentration-response of HD-induced cytosolic acidification, closely paralleled the acidification of the extracellular buffer through HD hydrolysis. A viability study was carried out in order to assess the importance of HD-induced cytosolic acidification. Cultures were exposed to HD for 1 h in media that were adjusted through a pH range (pH 5.0-10), and the 24 h LC(50) values were assessed using the viability indicator dye alamarBlue. The toxicity of HD was found to be dependent on extracellular pH, with a greater than eight-fold increase in LD(50) obtained in cultures treated with HD at pH 9.5, compared to those treated at pH 5.0. Assays of apoptotic cell death, including morphology, soluble DNA, caspase-3 activity and TUNEL also showed that as pH was increased, much greater HD concentrations were required to cause cell death. The modest decline in HD half-life measured in buffers of increasing pH, did not account for the protective effects of basic pH. The early event(s) that HD initiates to eventually culminate in cell death are not known. However, based on the data obtained in this study, we propose that HD causes an extracellular acidification through chemical hydrolysis and that this, in both a concentration and temporally related fashion, results in cytosolic acidification. Furthermore, HD also acts to poison the antiporter systems responsible for maintaining physiological pH(i), so that the cells are unable to recover from this insult. It is this irreversible decline in pH(i) that initiates the cascade of events that results in HD-induced cell death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2007.03.017DOI Listing
June 2007
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