1-Nitropyrene (1-NP) induces apoptosis and apparently a non-apoptotic programmed cell death (paraptosis) in Hepa1c1c7 cells
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Mechanistic studies of nitro-PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) of interest might help elucidate which chemical characteristics are most important in eliciting toxic effects. 1-Nitropyrene (1-NP) is the predominant nitrated PAH emitted in diesel exhaust. 1-NP-exposed Hepa1c1c7 cells exhibited marked changes in cellular morphology, decreased proliferation and different forms of cell death. A dramatic increase in cytoplasmic vacuolization was observed already after 6 h of exposure and the cells started to round up at 12 h. The rate of cell proliferation was markedly reduced at 24 h and apoptotic as well as propidium iodide (PI)-positive cells appeared. Electron microscopic examination revealed that the vacuolization was partly due to mitochondria swelling. The caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK inhibited only the apoptotic cell death and Nec-1 (an inhibitor of necroptosis) exhibited no inhibitory effects on either cell death or vacuolization. In contrast, cycloheximide markedly reduced both the number of apoptotic and PI-positive cells as well as the cytoplasmic vacuolization, suggesting that 1-NP induced paraptotic cell death. All the MAPKs; ERK1/2, p38 and JNK, appear to be involved in the death process since marked activation was observed upon 1-NP exposure, and their inhibitors partly reduced the induced cell death. The ERK1/2 inhibitor PD 98057 completely blocked the induced vacuolization, whereas the other MAPKs inhibitors only had minor effects on this process. These findings suggest that 1-NP may cause apoptosis and paraptosis. In contrast, the corresponding amine (1-aminopyrene) elicited only minor apoptotic and necrotic cell death, and cells with characteristics typical of paraptosis were absent.
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