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Environ Toxicol. 2006 Feb;21(1):80-9.

Cytotoxic effects and apoptosis induction of atrazine in a grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) cell line.

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College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310012, People's Republic of China.


Atrazine is a widely used herbicide that was considered to be an endocrine disrupter capable of interfering with the synthesis and action of natural hormones. In the present study, we found that atrazine was able to cause apoptosis in grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) cells from cell line ZC7901. By fluorescent and transmission electron microscopy, the atrazine-incubated cells displayed a series of morphological changes, including condensation of the nucleus, margination of chromatin to form dense granular caps, and formation of apoptotic bodies. Moreover, DNA fragmentation was detected by the TUNEL reaction and agarose gel electrophoresis. These typical characteristics of cells undergoing apoptosis indicated the occurrence of apoptosis in ZC7901. Apoptosis induced by atrazine was dose- and time-dependent and was involved in mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)) disruption, elevation in intracellular Ca(2+), generation of reactive oxygen species, and intracellular ATP depletion. This study provides the first evidence that atrazine was able to induce apoptosis in fish cells, which indicated the existence of a novel cytotoxic mechanism caused by atrazine and may improve our understanding of the complex relationship between contaminants and aquatic organisms.

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