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Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Mar 15;44(6):1146-60. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.12.017. Epub 2007 Dec 23.

Ceramide-induced formation of ROS and ATP depletion trigger necrosis in lymphoid cells.

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Centro FONDAP Estudios Moleculares de la Celula (CEMC), Instituto Ciencias Biomedicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


In lymphocytes, Fas activation leads to both apoptosis and necrosis, whereby the latter form of cell death is linked to delayed production of endogenous ceramide and is mimicked by exogenous administration of long- and short-chain ceramides. Here molecular events associated with noncanonical necrotic cell death downstream of ceramide were investigated in A20 B lymphoma and Jurkat T cells. Cell-permeable, C6-ceramide (C6), but not dihydro-C6-ceramide (DH-C6), induced necrosis in a time- and dose-dependent fashion. Rapid formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within 30 min of C6 addition detected by a dihydrorhodamine fluorescence assay, as well as by electron spin resonance, was accompanied by loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. The presence of N-acetylcysteine or ROS scavengers like Tiron, but not Trolox, attenuated ceramide-induced necrosis. Alternatively, adenovirus-mediated expression of catalase in A20 cells also attenuated cell necrosis but not apoptosis. Necrotic cell death observed following C6 exposure was associated with a pronounced decrease in ATP levels and Tiron significantly delayed ATP depletion in both A20 and Jurkat cells. Thus, apoptotic and necrotic death induced by ceramide in lymphocytes occurs via distinct mechanisms. Furthermore, ceramide-induced necrotic cell death is linked here to loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, production of ROS, and intracellular ATP depletion.

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