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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Mar 14;4:e540. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.7.

Cadmium induced Drp1-dependent mitochondrial fragmentation by disturbing calcium homeostasis in its hepatotoxicity.

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Department of Occupational Health, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, People's Republic of China.


Mitochondria are critical targets in the hepatotoxicity of cadmium (Cd). Abnormal mitochondrial dynamics have been increasingly implicated in mitochondrial dysfunction in pathophysiological conditions. Therefore, our study aimed to investigate the effects and underlying mechanism of Cd on mitochondrial dynamics during hepatotoxicity. In the L02 liver cell lines, 12 μM cadmium chloride (CdCl₂) exposure induced excessive mitochondrial fragmentation as early as 3 h post-treatment with Cd, which preceded the mitochondrial dysfunction such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction, mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) loss and ATP reduction. Concurrent to mitochondrial fragmentation, CdCl₂ treatment increased the protein levels of dynamin-related protein (Drp1) and promoted the recruitment of Drp1 into mitochondria. Strikingly, mitochondrial fragmentation also occurred in the liver tissue of rats exposed to CdCl₂, accompanied by enhanced recruitment of Drp1 into mitochondria. Moreover, in L02 cells, Drp1 silencing could effectively reverse Cd-induced mitochondrial fragmentation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, the increased expression and mitochondrial recruitment of Drp1 were tightly related to the disturbance of calcium homeostasis, which could be prevented by both chelating [Ca²⁺]i and inhibiting [Ca²⁺]m uptake. Overall, our study indicated that Cd induced Drp1-dependent mitochondrial fragmentation by disturbing calcium homeostasis to promote hepatotoxicity. Manipulation of Drp1 may be the potential avenue for developing novel strategies to protect against cadmium-induced hepatotoxicity.

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