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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons induce both apoptotic and anti-apoptotic signals in Hepa1c1c7 cells.

In this study we show that benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and the cyclopenta polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (CP-PAH) cyclopenta[c,d]pyrene (CPP), benz[j]aceanthrylene (B[j]A) and benz[l]aceanthrylene (B[l]A) induce apoptosis in Hepa1c1c7 cells, as measured by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. The compounds induced formation of the active form of caspase-3, cleavage of its intracellular substrate, poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP), and DNA fragmentation. B[j]A was found to be the most potent in inducing apoptosis, followed by B[a]P, CPP and B[l]A. All compounds increased expression of CYP1A1 with relative potencies B[j]A > B[a]P >> CPP > B[l]A, corresponding well with their relative apoptotic responses. alpha-Naphthoflavone (alphaNF), an inhibitor of CYP1A1, reduced the induced apoptosis. B[a]P and CP-PAH exposure also resulted in an accumulation of the tumour suppressor protein p53. No changes were observed in the protein levels of Bax and Bcl-2, whereas the anti-apoptotic Bcl-xl protein was down-regulated, as judged by western blot analysis. Fluorescence microscopic analysis revealed a translocation of p53 to the nucleus and of Bax to the mitochondria. Furthermore, caspase-8 was activated and Bid cleaved. Interestingly, the levels of anti-apoptotic phospho-Bad (Ser155 and Ser112) had a biphasic increase after B[a]P or CPP treatment. Whereas alphaNF markedly reduced the activation of B[a]P to reactive metabolites, as measured by covalent binding to macromolecules, it did not inhibit the up-regulation of phospho-Bad. Neither of the compounds triggered apoptosis in primary cultures of rat lung cells (Clara cells, type 2 cells and lung alveolar macrophages), possibly due to a lack of CYP1A1 induction. In conclusion, B[a]P and the CP-PAH induced apoptotic as well as anti-apoptotic signals in Hepa1c1c7 cells.[1]


  1. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons induce both apoptotic and anti-apoptotic signals in Hepa1c1c7 cells. Solhaug, A., Refsnes, M., Låg, M., Schwarze, P.E., Husøy, T., Holme, J.A. Carcinogenesis (2004) [Pubmed]
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