Genetic or pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 signaling fails to protect against aflatoxin genotoxicity in hypersensitive GSTA3 knockout mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mice are resistant to aflatoxin hepatotoxicity, primarily due to high expression of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs), and in particular the GSTA3 subunit. Nuclear factor erythroid 2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling, which controls a broad-based cytoprotective response, was activated either genetically or pharmacologically in an attempt to rescue GSTA3 knockout mice from aflatoxin genotoxicity. Genetic activation of Nrf2 signaling was attained in a GSTA3: hepatocyte-specific Keap1 double knockout (DKO) mouse whereas pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 was achieved through pretreatment of mice with the triterpenoid 1-[2-cyano-3-,12-dioxoleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl] imidazole (CDDO-Im) prior to aflatoxin B1 exposure. Following oral treatment with aflatoxin, urine was collected from mice for 24 h and hepatic and urinary aflatoxin metabolites then quantified using isotope dilution-mass spectrometry. Although Nrf2 was successfully activated genetically and pharmacologically, neither means affected the response of GSTA3 knockout mice to chemical insult with aflatoxin. Hepatic aflatoxin B1-N(7)-guanine levels were elevated 120-fold in GSTA3 knockout mice compared with wild-type and levels were not attenuated by the interventions. This lack of effect was mirrored in the urinary excretion of aflatoxin B1-N(7)-guanine. By contrast, urinary excretion of aflatoxin B1-N-acetylcysteine was >200-fold higher in wild-type mice compared with the single GSTA3 knockout or DKO mouse. The inability to rescue GSTA3 knockout mice from aflatoxin genotoxicity through the Nrf2 transcriptional program indicates that Gsta3 is unilaterally responsible for the detoxication of aflatoxin in mice.

published proceedings

  • Toxicol Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Kensler, K. H., Slocum, S. L., Chartoumpekis, D. V., Dolan, P. M., Johnson, N. M., Ilic, Z., ... Egner, P. A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Kensler, Kevin H||Slocum, Stephen L||Chartoumpekis, Dionysios V||Dolan, Patrick M||Johnson, Natalie M||Ilic, Zoran||Crawford, Dana R||Sell, Stewart||Groopman, John D||Kensler, Thomas W||Egner, Patricia A

publication date

  • June 2014