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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1992 Sep 30;187(3):1256-61.

Inhibition of apoptosis by zinc: a reappraisal.

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  • 1Istituto di Patologia Generale, University of Modena, Italy.


Apoptosis--or programmed cell death--is an active type of cell death, occurring in several pathophysiological conditions. One of the most important characteristics of apoptosis is that cell death is preceded by DNA fragmentation, consequent to the activation of nuclear calcium- and magnesium-dependent endonuclease(s). DNA fragmentation can be inhibited by zinc ions. By using several techniques, such as DNA agarose gel electrophoresis, cytofluorimetric analysis of DNA content and of cell cycle, 3H-thymidine incorporation and trypan blue dye exclusion test, we show that zinc, despite completely inhibiting DNA fragmentation and the consequent loss of nuclear DNA content, does not protect rat thymocytes from spontaneous or dexamethasone-induced death. Our data also suggest that DNA fragmentation, although characteristic, is not a critical event for thymocyte death of apoptotic type.

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