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Toxicol Sci. 2000 May;55(1):60-8.

Apoptosis and P53 induction in human lung fibroblasts exposed to chromium (VI): effect of ascorbate and tocopherol.

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Department of Pharmacology, Molecular and Cellular Oncology and Genetics, The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20037, USA.


Some forms of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] are known to cause damage to respiratory tract tissue, and are thought to be human lung carcinogens. Because Cr(VI) is mutagenic and carcinogenic at doses that evoke cell toxicity, the objective of these experiments was to examine the effect of Cr(VI) on the growth, survival, and mode of cell death in normal human lung fibroblasts (HLF cells). DNA adduct formation was monitored as a marker for bioavailability of genotoxic chromium. We also examined the modulation of these endpoints by vitamins C and E. Long-term Cr(VI) exposures were employed, which decreased clonogenic cell survival by 25% to 95% in a dose-dependent manner. The predominant cellular response to Cr(VI) was growth arrest. We found that Cr(VI) caused up to 20% of HLF cells to undergo apoptosis, and documented apoptotic morphology and the phagocytosis of apoptotic bodies by neighboring cells. P53 levels increased 4- to 6-fold in chromium-treated cells. In contrast with previous studies using CHO cells, the present study using HLFs found that pretreatment with either vitamin C or E did not exhibit a significant effect on Cr-induced apoptosis or clonogenic survival. In addition, pretreatment with vitamin C did not affect the p53 induction observed after chromium treatment. Neither vitamin had any effect on Cr-DNA adduct formation. These data indicate that although pretreatment with vitamin C or E alters the spectrum of cellular and/or genetic lesions induced by chromium(VI), neither vitamin altered the initiation or progression of apoptosis in diploid human lung cells.

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