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Redox Rep. 2002;7(1):47-53.

Myeloperoxidase-dependent caspase-3 activation and apoptosis in HL-60 cells: protection by the antioxidants ascorbate and (dihydro)lipoic acid.

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  • 1Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-6512, USA.


The heme enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO) has recently been implicated in hydrogen peroxide H(2)O(2)-induced apoptosis of HL-60 human leukemia cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate the molecular mechanism(s) of MPO-mediated apoptosis, in particular caspase-3 activation, and to determine the effects of the antioxidants ascorbate and (dihydro)lipoic acid. Incubation of HL-60 cells (1 x 10(6) cells/ml media) with H(2)O(2) (0-200 microM) resulted in dose-dependent stimulation of caspase-3 activity, DNA fragmentation, and morphological changes associated with apoptosis. Caspase-3 activity, DNA fragmentation and apoptosis were maximal at approximately 50 microM H(2)O(2). Pre-incubation of the cells with the MPO-specific inhibitor 4-aminobenzoic acid hydrazide (ABAH) and the heme enzyme inhibitor 3-aminotriazole (100 microM each) resulted in complete and partial inhibition, respectively, of intracellular MPO, caspase-3 activity, and apoptosis following addition of 50 microM H(2)O(2). Enhancement of cellular antioxidant status by pre-incubation of the cells with dehydro-ascorbic acid and lipoic acid, which are reduced intracellularly to ascorbate and dihydrolipoic acid, respectively, afforded protection against caspase-3 activation and apoptosis following addition of H(2)O(2). Addition of high concentrations of H(2)O(2) (200 microM) to cells pre-incubated with lipoic acid, however, resulted in cytotoxicity. Overall, our data indicate that MPO-derived oxidants, rather than H(2)O(2) itself, are involved in caspase-3 activation and apoptosis in HL-60 cells, and the antioxidants ascorbate and (dihydro)lipoic acid inhibit caspase-3 activation and apoptosis in these cells, likely via scavenging the MPO-derived oxidants.

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