GM Maize Induces
Changes in Mice Immune Response
A new report by the Italian government’s
National Institute of Research on Food and Nutrition which is published
in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry has found significant
changes in the immune response of young and old mice that have been
fed the GM maize MON 810.
In the study, weaning and old mice
were fed a diet containing MON810 or its parental control maize or a
pellet diet containing GM-free maize for 30 and 90 days. Significant
differences in the percentages of several lymphocyte populations and
subsets were documented in both weaning and old mice that were fed with
GM maize, compared with the control and GM-free maize diets. There was
also an increase of several cytokines in serum, all involved in allergic
and inflammatory responses, in mice fed with MON810. These changes were
not detected in the mice fed on non-GM diets. The increase of these
cytokines is a further indicator of immune perturbations caused by MON
Because the MON810 and its parental
control maize given to the animals were grown simultaneously in neighbouring
fields, using the same agricultural techniques and had the same external
climatic conditions, this eliminates or reduces environmental variables.
Likewise, both the GM and non-GM maize had the same nutritiona! l composition
and were similarly balanced, ruling out improper nutrition causing the
observed effects. Together with other data eliminating other probable
causes of the changes, this indicates that the observed immunophenotype
changes were likely due to the insertion of the Cry1Ab coding sequence.
The immune disturbances are significant
also in view of other findings whereby proteomic analysis identified
43 proteins that were up- or down-regulated in the MON 810 maize seeds
compared with the parental control, likely as a result of the Cry1Ab
gene insertion, among them a well-known allergenic protein, that was
not present in the parental strain.
The scientists concluded that the
results obtained indicate that the consumption of MON810 maize induced
alterations in intestinal and peripheral immune response of weaning
and old mice. Although the significance of these data remains to be
clarified to establish whether these alterations reflect significant
immune dysfunctions, these results suggest the importance of considering
the gut and peripheral immune response to the whole GM crop, as well
as the age, in the GMO safety evaluation. Previous assessments of GMO
immune adverse impacts had largely looked only at the pure recombinant
protein, not the whole GMO.
<!--[endif]-->These latest findings, together with a number of
other studies, which have raised concerns on the health safety of GM
food and feed, further strengthen the need for caution in approving
and releasing GM products for consumption.
Intestinal and Peripheral Immune
Response to MON810 Maize Ingestion in
Weaning and Old Mice
Alberto Finamore, Marianna Roselli,
Serena Britti, Giovanni Monastra,
Roberto Ambra, Aida Turrini and Elena Mengheri*
Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per
gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Via
Ardeatina 546, 00178 Roma, Italy
J. Agric. Food Chem., Article ASAP
Publication Date (Web): November 14, 2008
Copyright © 2008 American Chemical Society
* Corresponding author (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone
+39-06-51494523; fax +39-06-51494550).
This study evaluated the gut and
peripheral immune response to genetically modified (GM) maize in mice
in vulnerable conditions. Weaning and old mice were fed a diet containing
MON810 or its parental control maize or a pellet diet containing a GM-free
maize for 30 and 90 days. The immunophenotype of intestinal intraepithelial,
spleen, and blood lymphocytes of control maize fed mice was similar
to that of pellet fed mice. As compared to control maize, MON810 maize
induced alterations in the percentage of T and B cells and of CD4+,
CD8+, cdT, and abT subpopulations of weaning and old mice fed for 30
or 90 days, respectively, at the gut and peripheral sites. An increase
of serum IL-6, IL-13, IL-12p70, and MIP-1b after MON810 feeding was
also found. These results suggest the importance of the gut and peripheral
immune response to GM crop ingestion as well as the age of the consumer
in the GMO safety evaluation.
ISIS Press Release 19/11/08
GM Maize Disturbs Immune System of Young and Old Mice
New research add to the weight of damning evidence against the safety
of GM food Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
The Italian government’s National
Institute of Research on Food and Nutrition has just published a report
online in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry documenting significant
disturbances in the immune system of young and old mice that have been
fed the GM maize MON 810 . This follows hot on the heels of results
released by the Austrian government showing that GM Maize Reduces Fertility
& Deregulates Genes in Mice (SiS 41) . These revelations confirm
a string of previous findings on adverse health impacts of GM food and
feed, leave us in little doubt that GM is! Dangerous and Futile (SiS
40) . Proponents should stop misleading the public that GM food and
feed is safe.
The GM maize and the parental non-GM
variety from which it was derived, were grown simultaneously in neighbouring
fields in Landriano, Italy, from seeds provided by SeedsEmporda (Girona,
Spain). The control maize flour from the non-GM parental strain had
a low level of GMO contamination (0.29 percent by PCR test) but only
the GM maize had the specific gene coding for the toxin Cry1Ab that
acts as a pesticide.
The GM and non-GM maize were also
analysed for levels of the fungal aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2, fumonisin
B1 (FB1), deoxynivalenol (DON), ochratoxin, and zeralenon, that frequently
contaminate maize grains. The values were below the maximum allowed
in Europe, except for FB1 (1350 and 2450 mg/kg) and DON (1300 and 650
mg/kg) in GM and non-GM maize respectively.
The diets were formulated according
to accepted standards and contained 50 percent MON810 or its parental
control maize flour. A standard pellet diet containing about 50 percent
of commercial non GM maize was also used, which did not contain CrylAb
by PCR test.
Weaning mice, 21 days old, were
fed with the diets for 30 and 90 days, and the old mice, 18 to 19 months,
were fed for 90 days on the test diets; and male Balb/c mice were used
in all the experiments.
There were no differences in the
mean body weight or in food consumed between the GM-fed and control
mice. These are the ‘agronomic’ characteristics typically
measured in feeding tests, and all too often, the only characteristics
The total number of white blood
cells in the small intestine, spleen and blood were not different. However,
there were significant differences in the percentages of T and B cells,
and of CD4+, CD8+, gdT+, and mbT+ subpopulations in both weaning and
old mice that were GM-fed for 30 and 90 days respectively compared with
controls. These changes appeared in the gut, spleen and blood, and were
accompanied by increase in blood cytokines IL-6, IL-13, IL-12p70, and
MIP-1b, all involved in allergic and inflammatory responses. These changes
were not detected in the mice fed the commercial non-GM pellet diet.
The greatest effects were the weaning
mice fed for 30 days on GM maize, whereas those fed for 90 days only
had increased B cells. In the old mice, the induced changes were similar
to those found for the weaning mice fed for 30 days. These results show
that very young and old mice are more susceptible to immunological insults.
By the time the mice were 111 days old (90+21), a degree of tolerance
had been established, so that the disturbances were reduced.
The immune disturbances are significant
also in view of findings from another laboratory ; proteomic analysis
identified 43 proteins that were up or down regulated in the MON 810
maize seeds compared with the parental strain, among them a 50 kda g-zein,
a well-known allergenic protein , that was not present in the parental
It is clear that genetic modification
is inherently hazardous, as it invariably result in unpredictable and
uncontrollable changes in the genome and the epigenome (pattern of gene
expression) that impact on safety.
Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, Monastra G, Ambra R, Turrini A and
Mengheri E. Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize
ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric food Chem, http://pubs.ac.org,
16 November 2008
Ho MW. GM maize reduces fertility and deregulates genes in mice. Science
in Society 41 (to appear)
Ho MW. GM is dangerous and futile. Science in Society 40 (in press).
Zolla L, Rinalducci S, Antonioli P, Righetti PG. Proteomics as a complementary
tool for identifying unintended side effects occurring in transgenic
maize seeds as a sresultof genetic modification. J. Proteome Res 2008,
Pasini G, Simonato B, Curioni A, Vincenzi S, Cristaudo Q, Santucci B,
Peruffo AD, Giannattasio M. IgE-mediated allergy to corn: a 50 kDa protein,
belonging to the reduced soluble proteins, is a major allergen. Allergy
2002, 37, 98-106.