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Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Apr 17;347(1):105-12.

Buprenorphine hydrochloride induces apoptosis in NG108-15 nerve cells.

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Department of Biological Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Nihon University, Chiba, Japan.


A morphine alkaloid derivative, buprenorphine hydrochloride, induces apoptosis in NG108-15 cells. Apoptosis was detected mainly by apoptosis-specific DNA fragmentation and morphological changes. This apoptosis was dose-dependent and the time-course experiment indicated that DNA fragmentation occurred within 4 h after administration of buprenorphine hydrochloride. Specific inhibitors of the previously characterized apoptotic signal cascade as well as antagonists for opioid receptors were tested. Zn2+, herbimycin A, caspase inhibitors YVAD (Ac-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp-CHO) and DEVD (Ac-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp-CHO), naloxone and naltrindole had no effect on apoptosis-specific DNA fragmentation. The serine protease inhibitor TPCK (N-tosyl-L-phenylalanyl chloromethyl ketone) specifically inhibited apoptosis-specific DNA fragmentation induced by buprenorphine hydrochloride; however, cell viability measurements revealed that cell death still occurred in NG108-15 cells. Thus TPCK pretreatment before buprenorphine hydrochloride administration induced apoptosis-independent cell death, presumably necrosis, in NG108-15 cells. This suggests that an unidentified serine protease, presumably functioning in the buprenorphine hydrochloride-specific death-signal cascade, could be pivotal for the rapid apoptosis observed in NG108-15 cells upon treatment with buprenorphine hydrochloride.

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