Involvement of oxygen radicals in cytarabine-induced apoptosis in human polymorphonuclear cells

Metello Iacobini, Adriana Menichelli, Giuseppe Palumbo, Giuseppe Multari, Beate Werner, Domenico Del Principe

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We investigated apoptosis in polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) induced by cytarabine (Ara-C). This drug increased apoptosis by 100% with respect to the controls after 3 hr of incubation. This increase was inhibited by N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) or diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI). Ara-C alone caused an early increase (after a 30-min incubation) in intracellular oxidant generation (inhibitable by rotenone, fumonisin b1, and DPI) and in protein tyrosine phosphorylations (inhibitable by NAC). The drug also affected the observed reduction of dimethylthiazol diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT). No extracellular release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was elicited by the addition of Ara-C, while the drug increased the release of ROS by N-formyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-(f-MLP) but not phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-stimulated PMNs. This phenomenon was abolished by the addition of genistein, whereas such an effect was not observed following the addition of 1-(5-isoquinolynilsulfonyl)-2-methylpiperazine (H7). Ara-C induced ROS release from PMNs in the presence of subthreshold concentrations of f-MLP (priming effect). These results indicate that intracellular ROS production from mitochondria promotes Ara-C-induced apoptosis. Ara-C primes plasma membranes by a mechanism involving protein tyrosine phosphorylations and may also contribute to ROS generation from the granules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1040
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2001


  • Antileukemic drugs
  • Mitochondria
  • Tyrosine phosphorylations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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