EGFR/MAPK signaling pathway acts as a potential therapeutic target for sulforaphane-rescued heart tube malformation induced by various concentrations of PhIP exposure

Guang Wang, Ran Zhao, Xinxia Zhang, Ying Zheng, Feiling Xie, Yu Jiang, Guohua Lv, Denglu Long, Chengyang Sun, Yongping Bao, Shuangyu Qi, Xinyue Liu, Qihao Zhang, Xuesong Yang

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Background: 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyrimidine (PhIP) is a known carcinogen generated mainly from cooking meat and environmental pollutants. It is worth exploring the potential of natural small-molecule drugs to protect against adverse effects on embryonic development. Purpose: In this study, we investigated the potential toxicological effects of PhIP on embryonic heart tube formation and the effect of Sulforaphane (SFN) administration on the anti-toxicological effects of PhIP on embryonic cardiogenesis. Study design and methods: First, the chicken embryo model was used to investigate the different phenotypes of embryonic heart tubes induced by various concentrations of PhIP exposure. We also proved that SFN rescues PhIP-induced embryonic heart tube malformation. Second, immunofluorescence, western blot, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and flow cytometry experiments were employed to explore the mechanisms by which SFN protects cardiac cells from oxidative damage in the presence of PhIP. We used RNA-seq analysis, molecular docking, in situ hybridization, cellular thermal shift assay and solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to explore whether SFN protects cardiogenesis through the EGFR/MAPK signaling pathway. Results: The study showed that PhIP might dose-dependently interfere with the C-looping heart tube (mild) or the fusion of a pair of bilateral endocardial tubes (severe) in chick embryos, while SFN administration prevented cardiac cells from oxidative damage in the presence of high-level PhIP. Furthermore, we found that excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and subsequent apoptosis were not the principal mechanisms by which low-level PhIP induced malformation of heart tubes. This is due to PhIP-disturbed Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway could be corrected by SFN administration. Conclusions: This study provided novel insight that PhIP exposure could increase the risk of abnormalities in early cardiogenesis and that SFN could partially rescue various concentrations of PhIP-induced abnormal heart tube formation by targeting EGFR and mediating EGFR/MAPK signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155270
Early online date9 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Apoptosis
  • EGFR/MAPK signaling
  • Heart tube formation
  • Oxidative stress
  • PhIP
  • Sulforaphane

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