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Toxicology. 2009 Jul 10;261(3):119-25. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 May 12.

Enantiomer-specific, bifenthrin-induced apoptosis mediated by MAPK signalling pathway in Hep G2 cells.

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Research Centre of Environmental Science, College of Biology and Environment, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310032, China.


Enantioselectivity in toxicology, and health risk of chiral xenobiotics have become important topics at the forefront of chemistry and toxicology research. Our previous results showed that cis-bifenthrin (cis-BF) induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in human amnion epithelial (FL) cells, in an enantioselective manner. However, the exact molecular mechanisms of synthetic pyrethroid-induced, enantioselective apoptosis and cytotoxicity remain unclear. In this study, enantiomers of the synthetic pyrethroid-based insecticide, cis-BF, were separated on selected chiral columns by HPLC. Enantioselectivity in cytotoxicity and apoptosis, mediated by the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway, were evaluated in the human hepatocellular liver carcinoma (Hep G2) cell line. Exposure to 1S-cis-BF resulted in increased levels of phosphorylated JNK (Jun-N-terminal Kinases)/MAPKs, while exposure to 1R-cis-BF did not affect phosphorylated JNK levels. Pre-treatment with the JNK inhibitor SP600125, blocked 1S-cis-BF-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis. In addition, 1S-cis-BF enhanced the production of ROS, while pre-treatment with the antioxidant agent MnTBAP resulted in decreased phosphorylation of JNK. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating that cis-BF-induced apoptosis might occur, at least in part, through the enantioselective activation of JNK/MAPK signalling pathway in Hep G2 cells. The results suggest that enantioselectivity should be considered when evaluating eco-toxicological effects and health risks of chiral contaminants, and could also improve the understanding of molecular mechanisms responsible for chiral chemical-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis.

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