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Eur J Pharm Sci. 2000 Apr;10(2):125-31.

Relation between intracellular acidification and camptothecin-induced apoptosis in leukemia cells.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique, Faculté de Pharmacie, B.P. 83, 59006, Lille, France.


Leukemia cells (HL-60 and P388) treated with the topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin (CPT) undergo rapid apoptosis as judged from internucleosomal degradation of genomic DNA, morphological changes and flow cytometry analysis. The intracellular free calcium concentration is not affected by the treatment with a high dose of CPT. In contrast, fluorescence measurements of cells loaded with the pH indicator BCECF-AM indicate that the intracellular pH decreases significantly. Incubation of the leukemia cells with a high drug concentration for 5 h or with lower drug concentrations for 15 h results in a pronounced intracellular acidification. Measurements with the whole cell population show a decrease of 0.3-0.4 pH units. The extent of the acidic shift is proportional to the drug concentration and the period of incubation. No such effects were observed with P388CPT5 cells resistant to CPT. The results support the hypothesis that apoptosis induced in leukemia cells by CPT is associated with decreased intracellular pH. Modification of intracellular pH by topoisomerase inhibitors is viewed as an essential event responsible for the induction and/or propagation of apoptosis. The role of CPT-induced cellular acidification in the mechanism of action of the drug is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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