Aristolochic acid I induced oxidative DNA damage associated with glutathione depletion and ERK1/2 activation in human cells

Feng-Yih Yu, Ting-Shuan Wu, Ting-Wei Chen, Biing-Hui Liu
Toxicology in Vitro: An International Journal Published in Association with BIBRA 2011, 25 (4): 810-6
Aristolochic acid I (AAI) has been widely found in herbal remedies and linked to the development of nephropathy and urothelial carcinoma in humans. This study elucidated the mechanism of oxidative stress and DNA damage mediated by AAI in human cells. Treatment of human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60) and human renal proximal tubular cells (HK-2) with AAI led to a dose-dependent increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS). AAI also elevated the levels of DNA strand breaks and 8-hydroxy guanosine in HL-60 and HK-2 cells. Antioxidants, including Tiron, N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) and glutathione (GSH), effectively suppressed the AAI-induced ROS and AAI-elicited genotoxicity, indicating that AAI induced the DNA damage through oxidative stress. GSH depletion was also found in AAI-treated cultures and proceeded prior to ROS formation. Exposure of HL-60 cells with AAI activated both ERK1/2 and p38 kinase phosphorylation, while only MEK1/2 inhibitor, U0126, significantly decreased AAI-mediated ROS. Preincubation of cells with thiol-containing compounds (NAC and GSH) inhibited the caspase 3 activity triggered by AAI, but non-thiol Tiron did not show a similar effect. This study demonstrated that AAI treatment results in oxidative stress-related DNA damage through GSH depletion and ERK1/2 activation; AAI-induced apoptosis is associated with GSH loss, but is independent of ROS generation.

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