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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Feb 24;268(3):942-6.

Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate induces apoptosis by a cytochrome c-dependent mechanism.

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Institute of Biochemistry of Macromolecules, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.


Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) is a synthetic antioxidant molecule, which has been recently proposed as an antitumoral agent on the basis of its capability of inducing apoptosis. We investigated the effect of PDTC on the proliferation and survival of the promyelocitic cell line HL-60. Concentration as low as 10 microM of PDTC induces a significant reduction of the growth rate and the contemporaneous activation of the apoptotic process. Programmed cell death was demonstrated by biochemical analyses, including the activation of procaspase 3 and the cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). PDTC-dependent apoptosis was associated with an early release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, while the involvement of pathways due to cell death receptors engagement was ruled out by detailed time-course analyses of caspases 3 and 8 activation. Moreover, no up-regulation of p21(CIP1) level, a pivotal cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, occurred at PDTC concentration able to induce apoptosis. Finally, in vitro incubation of purified mitochondria with PDTC demonstrated that the molecule is directly able to induce cytochrome c release from the intermembrane space, thus confirming that mitochondria are a primary cellular target of the molecule.

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