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Cell Biol Toxicol. 2003 Nov;19(6):393-405.

Alpha-difluoromethylornithine, ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor, antagonizes H2O2-induced cytotoxicity in HL-60 leukemia cells: regulation of iron-dependent lysosomal damage.

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Department of Radiation Biology, Environment Radiation Research Group, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Yusong, Taejon, Korea.


Recent studies indicate that reactive oxygen species, such as H2O2, can be generated by anti-cancer drugs, can damage cells, and then induce apoptotic cell death. In this study, we reported whether polyamines were capable of affecting apoptotic cell death triggered by H2O2 in leukemia cells or not. Alpha-difluoromethylornithine treatment (DFMO, 3 mmol/L, 48 h), which depletes intracellular putrescine by inhibiting ornithine decarboxylase, reduced H2O2-induced cell death in the HL-60 leukemia cells. Cytotoxicity caused by H2O2 in putrescine-depleted cells was 50% lower than that in the control cells, as determined by propidium iodide, the annexin V and DNA fragmentation assays. Following putrescine (1 mmol/L) supplement, cell death induction caused by H2O2 was restored to a similar level as the DFMO-untreated control cells. It seems that this partly resulted from the intralysosomal iron-dependent oxidation of the cells because DFMO did not significantly affect the increment of enzymes related to oxidative-stress resistance. Putrescine depletion by DFMO treatment reduced the cellular iron uptake of the cells by about 70%. In parallel to the reduction of iron uptake, lysosomal damage (assayed by acridine orange relocalization or uptake test) in the DFMO-treated cells was far less than that in the control cells. Moreover, putrescine supplement also restored the iron uptake to the control cell levels. Pre-incubation with desferrioxamine (DFO), which chelates iron and forms a non-reactive Fe-DFO complex that is localized in the lysosomal compartment, inhibited H2O2-induced cell death. This work suggests that polyamines may play a critical role in apoptotic cell death triggered by H2O2 via the regulation of the iron-dependent instability of the lysosome.

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