Caspase inhibition augmented oridonin-induced cell death in murine fibrosarcoma l929 by enhancing reactive oxygen species generation

Jin-Nan Wu, Jian Huang, Jia Yang, Shin-Ichi Tashiro, Satoshi Onodera, Takashi Ikejima
Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 2008, 108 (1): 32-9
Oridonin, a diterpenoid isolated from Rabdosia rubescences, has been reported to have antitumor effects. In this study, the growth-inhibitory activity of oridonin for L929 cells was exerted in a time-and dose-dependent manner. After treatment with oridonin for 24 h, L929 cells underwent both apoptosis and necrosis as measured by an lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity-based assay. A rapid generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was triggered by oridonin, and subsequently up-regulation of phospho-p53 (ser 15) expression and an increased expression ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 was observed. Furthermore, there was a significant fall in mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and increase in caspase-3 activity after exposure to oridonin for 24 h. Surprisingly, the pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk and caspase3 inhibitor z-DEVD-fmk rendered L929 cells more sensitive to oridonin, rather than preventing oridonin-induced cell death. Oridonin and z-VAD-fmk co-treatment not only resulted in an even higher ROS production, but also made a more significant reduction in the MMP. Pretreatment of ROS scavenger N-acetylcysteine (NAC) led to a complete inhibition of oridonin-induced cell death, intracellular ROS generation, and MMP collapse. NAC treatment also reversed the potentiation of cell death by the pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk. Taken together, these observations showed that oridonin-induced cell death in L929 cells involved intracellular ROS generation, activation of phospho-p53 (ser 15), and up-regulation of the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio; and the augmented cell death by z-VAD-fmk was dependent on an increased ROS production.

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