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Free Radic Biol Med. 1995 Nov;19(5):565-74.

Cellular injury induced by oxidative stress is mediated through lysosomal damage.

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Department of Pathology II, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Sweden.


Cultured primary hepatocytes pretreated (protected) with the iron chelator deferoxamine or the antioxidant N,N'-diphenyl-p-phenylenediamine (DPPD) were resistant to the toxicity of 5 microM naphthazarin (5,8-dihydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone) during a 180-min exposure. Hepatocytes exposed to naphthazarin without any protection were abruptly depleted of intracellular reduced glutathione, and the level of cytosolic Ca2+ was rapidly increased. This was followed by lipid peroxidation, measured as accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA) and 4-hydroxyalkenals (4-HNA) intra- and extracellularly; decrease in ATP levels; destabilization of lysosomes; and finally cell death. The stability of the lysosomal membranes was evaluated by determining retention of the lysosomotropic weak base acridine orange (AO). Naphthazarin exposure caused leakage of protons from the acidic compartment, as indicated by relocalization of AO to the cytosol. Protection of the cell cultures with deferoxamine or DPPD prevented destabilization of lysosomes and cell killing. It also reduced the loss of ATP but did not prevent the depletion of glutathione or the increase in Ca2+. In cells subjected to naphthazarin exposure, DPPD protection also completely inhibited lipid peroxidation, whereas deferoxamine pretreatment only slightly reduced the intracellular accumulation of MDA and 4-HNA but completely prevented cell rupture and the leakage of these lipid peroxidation products to the medium that took place in large amounts from unprotected cells exposed to naphthazarin. Deferoxamine is taken up by endocytosis and is thus transported to the acidic vacuolar apparatus, whereas the lipophilic DPPD is rapidly distributed throughout the cells. Inhibiting endocytosis during deferoxamine pretreatment, by incubating at +4 degrees C or by preexposure to a mixture of the endocytosis-inhibitors cytochalasin B and monensin, abolished the protective effect of deferoxamine. The findings suggest that naphthazarin-induced cell killing is not caused directly by either thiol oxidation or an increase in cytosolic free Ca2+, but rather is preceded by lysosomal destabilization, which may be prevented either by inhibition of cellular peroxidation in general or by prevention of iron-catalyzed oxidative reactions, and involves peroxidation of cellular membranes, energy depletion, and leakage of lysosomal content. DPPD would protect against cell killing by preventing lipid peroxidation of cellular membranes in general, whereas deferoxamine seems to allow a limited general cellular peroxidation but specifically prevents peroxidation and fragmentation of lysosomal membranes by chelating intralysosomal iron and, consequently, leakage of destructive lysosomal contents with ensuing cell rupture and death. Thus, a certain degree of cellular peroxidation does not appear to be lethal as long as lysosomal membranes are protected, placing lysosomes into a category of cellular loci minora resistentia.

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