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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jan 11;60(1):533-8. doi: 10.1021/jf204107f. Epub 2011 Dec 23.

Apigenin-induced suicidal erythrocyte death.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Tuebingen, Gmelinstraße 5, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


Apigenin, a flavone in fruits and vegetables, stimulates apoptosis and thus counteracts cancerogenesis. Erythrocytes may similarly undergo suicidal cell death or eryptosis, characterized by cell shrinkage and phosphatidylserine exposure at the cell surface. Triggers of eryptosis include increase of cytosolic Ca(2+) activity ([Ca(2+)](i)), ceramide formation and ATP depletion. The present study explored the effect of apigenin on eryptosis. [Ca(2+)](i) was estimated from Fluo3-fluorescence, cell volume from forward scatter, phosphatidylserine exposure from annexin V binding, hemolysis from hemoglobin release, ceramide utilizing antibodies, and cytosolic ATP with luciferin-luciferase. A 48 h exposure to apigenin significantly increased [Ca(2+)](i) (≥ 1 μM), increased ceramide formation (15 μM), decreased ATP concentration (15 μM), decreased forward scatter (≥ 1 μM), and increased annexin V binding (≥ 5 μM) but did not significantly modify hemolysis. The effect of 15 μM apigenin on annexin V binding was blunted by Ca(2+) removal. The present observations reveal novel effects of apigenin, i.e. stimulation of Ca(2+) entry, ceramide formation and ATP depletion in erythrocytes with subsequent triggering of suicidal erythrocyte death, paralleled by cell shrinkage and phosphatidylserine exposure.

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