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Cell Death Dis. 2014 Aug 14;5:e1369. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2014.332.

Stabilization of apoptotic cells: generation of zombie cells.

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Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo (CABD-CSIC-Universidad Pablo de Olavide), and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Enfermedades Raras, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Sevilla, Spain.
Laboratorio de Neurociencia Celular y Plasticidad, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain.
Facultad de Odontología, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain.
Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y Naturales-Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain.


Apoptosis is characterized by degradation of cell components but plasma membrane remains intact. Apoptotic microtubule network (AMN) is organized during apoptosis forming a cortical structure beneath plasma membrane that maintains plasma membrane integrity. Apoptotic cells are also characterized by high reactive oxygen species (ROS) production that can be potentially harmful for the cell. The aim of this study was to develop a method that allows stabilizing apoptotic cells for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. By using a cocktail composed of taxol (a microtubule stabilizer), Zn(2+) (a caspase inhibitor) and coenzyme Q10 (a lipid antioxidant), we were able to stabilize H460 apoptotic cells in cell cultures for at least 72 h, preventing secondary necrosis. Stabilized apoptotic cells maintain many apoptotic cell characteristics such as the presence of apoptotic microtubules, plasma membrane integrity, low intracellular calcium levels and mitochondrial polarization. Apoptotic cell stabilization may open new avenues in apoptosis detection and therapy.

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