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Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 May 1;79(9):1221-30. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.12.009. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Endoplasmic reticulum calcium release potentiates the ER stress and cell death caused by an oxidative stress in MCF-7 cells.

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Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Toxicology and Cancer Biology Research Group, PMNT Unit, Belgium.


Increase in cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+](c)), release of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium ([Ca2+](er)) and ER stress have been proposed to be involved in oxidative toxicity. Nevertheless, their relative involvements in the processes leading to cell death are not well defined. In this study, we investigated whether oxidative stress generated during ascorbate-driven menadione redox cycling (Asc/Men) could trigger these three events, and, if so, whether they contributed to Asc/Men cytoxicity in MCF-7 cells. Using microspectrofluorimetry, we demonstrated that Asc/Men-generated oxidative stress was associated with a slow and moderate increase in [Ca2+](c), largely preceding permeation of propidium iodide, and thus cell death. Asc/Men treatment was shown to partially deplete ER calcium stores after 90 min (decrease by 45% compared to control). This event was associated with ER stress activation, as shown by analysis of eIF2 phosphorylation and expression of the molecular chaperone GRP94. Thapsigargin (TG) was then used to study the effect of complete [Ca2+](er) emptying during the oxidative stress generated by Asc/Men. Surprisingly, the combination of TG and Asc/Men increased ER stress to a level considerably higher than that observed for either treatment alone, suggesting that [Ca2+](er) release alone is not sufficient to explain ER stress activation during oxidative stress. Finally, TG-mediated [Ca2+](er) release largely potentiated ER stress, DNA fragmentation and cell death caused by Asc/Men, supporting a role of ER stress in the process of Asc/Men cytotoxicity. Taken together, our results highlight the involvement of ER stress and [Ca2+](er) decrease in the process of oxidative stress-induced cell death in MCF-7 cells.

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