Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the most used agrochemicals in the world. Their indiscriminate application raises some concerns regarding the possible health and environmental hazards. In this study, we investigated in human neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y if oxidative stress, altered neurodevelopment and cell death pathways are involved in response to glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) exposures. MTT and LDH assays were carried out to assess the glyphosate and AMPA cytotoxicity. Lipid peroxides measured as malondialdehyde (MDA), nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and caspase-Glo 3/7 activity were evaluated. The neuroprotective role of melatonin (MEL), Trolox, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and Sylibin against glyphosate- and AMPA-induced oxidative stress was examined. Glyphosate and AMPA effects on neuronal development related gene transcriptions, and gene expression profiling of cell death pathways by Real-Time PCR array were also investigated. Glyphosate (5 mM) and AMPA (10 mM) induced a significant increase in MDA levels, NO and ROS production and caspase 3/7 activity. Glyphosate exposure induced up-regulation of Wnt3a, Wnt5a, Wnt7a, CAMK2A, CAMK2B and down-regulation of GAP43 and TUBB3 mRNA expression involved in normal neural cell development. In relation to gene expression profiling of cell death pathways, of the 84 genes examined in cells a greater than 2-fold change was observed for APAF1, BAX, BCL2, CASP3, CASP7, CASP9, SYCP2, TNF, TP53, CTSB, NFκB1, PIK3C3, SNCA, SQSTMT, HSPBAP1 and KCNIPI mRNA expression for glyphosate and AMPA exposures. These gene expression data can help to define neurotoxic mechanisms of glyphosate and AMPA. Our results demonstrated that glyphosate and AMPA induced cytotoxic effects on neuronal development, oxidative stress and cell death via apoptotic, autophagy and necrotic pathways and confirmed that glyphosate environmental exposure becomes a concern. This study demonstrates that SH-SY5Y cell line could be considered an in vitro system for pesticide screening.
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