Overexpression of CYP2E1 induces HepG2 cells death by the AMP kinase activator 5'-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR)

Jian Zhuge
Cell Biology and Toxicology 2009, 25 (3): 253-63
5'-adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a phylogenetically conserved serine/threonine protein kinase. AMPK may inhibit cell growth and proliferation and also regulates apoptosis. 5'-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR) is a cell-permeable AMPK activator. Activation of AMPK with AICAR has been shown to induce apoptosis of the rat hepatoma cell line FTO2B cells and almost completely inhibited HepG2 cells growth. In this study, a HepG2 cell line, which was transfected with a vector containing human CYP2E1 cDNA (E47 cells), was treated with AICAR. Cell proliferation was blocked, and apoptosis and necrosis were elevated as assessed by cellular morphology, DNA content assay, and lactate dehydrogenase leakage. AICAR treatment significantly increases CYP2E1 activity (20-fold) and expression (5.5-fold) in E47 cells. Iodotubericidin, which inhibits the conversion of AICAR to its activated form AICAR monophosphate, the antioxidants trolox and MnTMPyP, and 4-methylpyrazole, an inhibitor of CYP2E1, all can protect the E47 cells from AICAR-induced necrosis. Production of intracellular reactive oxygen species was increased by AICAR treatment in E47 cells. The cytotoxicity mechanism of AICAR in E47 cells is suggested to include AMPK activation, p53 phosphorylation, p21 expression, overexpression of CYP2E1, and intracellular ROS accumulation.

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