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Biochem Pharmacol. 1997 May 15;53(10):1553-7.

Stimulation of gap junctional intercellular communication by thalidomide and thalidomide analogs in human skin fibroblasts.

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Institut für Physiologische Chemie I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany.


It has been speculated that gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), an intercellular signalling pathway, is involved in embryogenesis by coupling compartments of the same developmental potential. We found that thalidomide induces GJIC in human fibroblasts after activation by liver microsomes in concentrations as low as 10(-7) M. Treatment of cells with the thalidomide analog EM-12 increased GJIC without prior activation. No alteration of GJIC was detected with phthalimide and glutamate, the components of thalidomide. However, 2-phthalimido glutaric acid (PGA), a hydrolysis product of thalidomide, stimulated GJIC without activation at concentrations between 10(-10) M and 10(-5) M. We suggest modification of GJIC as a biochemical mechanism responsible for pharmacological and toxicological properties of thalidomide and related compounds.

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