Study by Young Health Scientist in Peer-Reviewed Journal
A study conducted by young doctoral candidate, Ms Yashodani Pillay (25), has been published in the interdisciplinary journal on the toxins derived from animals, plants and micro-organisms, Toxicon.
The study, Patulin Triggers NRF2-Mediated Survival Mechanisms in Kidney Cells, was co-supervised by Medical Biochemistry Head, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, and Dr Alisa Phulukdaree. It investigated the effects of patulin (PAT) – a toxic antibiotic that is derived from the metabolites of certain fungi – on antioxidant (AO) response survival pathways in human embryonic kidney cells known as HEK293.
Patulin is produced by moulds that contaminate apples and apple products. Pillay says literature shows these foods are most popular among children who are susceptible to toxic outcomes because their defence systems are still developing.
‘Our findings revealed that PAT depleted glutathione which is an agent pivotal to the cellular AO defence system,’ said Pillay. ‘This action increased levels of damaging pro-oxidants (ROS) and triggered the up-regulation of Nuclear erythroid 2-related factor (NRF2) mediated AO mechanisms. This suggested that innate cell survival mechanisms involved with NRF2 signalling were activated in response to acute Patulin exposure. A recent study in animals showed Patulin is a potential initiator in tumorigenicity though its mechanistic role remains unclear. Our study may assist in understanding the part Patulin may play, though further work is needed to fully elucidate this mechanism.
‘I am interested in disease manifestation, their impact on public health, and the development of counteractive methods. Mycotoxins contaminate various food products impacting and their mechanistic role in health and disease is poorly defined.’
Pillay said she had a passion for innovation in science and uplifting people. ‘I enjoy the pursuit of new knowledge and applying different tools and methods to the problems present in health.
‘In research, learning and innovation keeps us dynamic. I hope to bring this together with more community work and perhaps eventually go into public health field.
Pillay, who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences degree, thanked her supervisors for remaining inspirational and always encouraging.