Aflatoxin B1 is an inhibitor of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase activity

Paola Bonsi, Gabriella Augusti-Tocco, Maura Palmery, Mauro Giorgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) action on cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity has been tested on tissue extracts of various organs. In the presence of 100 μM AFB1 a significant inhibition of cAMP and cGMP hydrolytic activity is observed in all tested tissue extracts. However, cGMP hydrolytic activity appears more sensitive to AFB1 inhibition than cAMP hydrolytic activity and a considerably higher inhibition is observed in lung and spleen, than in liver, brain, kidney, and heart. When cGMP is used as substrate, the inhibitory response reaches 72% in lung and spleen extracts. We have also tested AFB1 effects on lung and liver PDE activity peaks separated by DEAE-cellulose chromatography. These data confirm the poor sensitivity to the toxin of all PDE activities present in liver, while the lung peak (where PDE V in present) shows a higher sensitivity to AFB1. In order to establish whether PDE V is in fact more sensitive to AFB1, we have used mouse neuroblastoma cells, in which cGMP hydrolytic activity has been shown to be due to PDE V only. In this case, the calculated IC50 is 24 μM and Dixon plot analysis shows a competitive inhibitory effect with a Ki of 16.7 μM. We have also used aflatoxin B2 and M2, and they proved to be much less effective than AFB1: AFB2 inhibits PDE V with an IC50 of 117 μM, while AFM2 does not show any effect. These results provide the first evidence of a competitive inhibition of AFB1 on an enzymatic activity and suggest that an alteration of cellular cyclic nucleotide levels may play a role in the mechanism of aflatoxin action. All rights reserved. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-619
Number of pages5
JournalGeneral Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • Aflatoxin B
  • High affinity cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase
  • PDE V isoform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Aflatoxin B1 is an inhibitor of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this