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Apoptosis Induced By Exposure To A Low Steady-state Concentration Of H2O2 Is A Consequence Of Lysosomal Rupture

Fernando ANTUNES, Enrique CADENAS, Ulf T. BRUNK

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We have re-examined the lysosomal hypothesis of oxidative-stress-induced apoptosis using a new technique for exposing cells in culture to a low steady-state concentration of H2O2. This steady-state technique mimics the situation in vivo better than the bolus-administration method. A key aspect of H2O2-induced apoptosis is that the apoptosis is evident only after several hours, although cells may become committed within a few minutes of exposure to this particular reactive oxygen species. In the present work, we were able to show, for the first time, several correlative links between the triggering effect of H2O2 and the later onset of apoptosis: (i) a short (15min) exposure to H2O2 caused almost immediate, albeit limited, lysosomal rupture; (ii) early lysosomal damage, and later apoptosis, showed a similar dose-related response to H2O2; (iii) both events were inhibited by pre-treatment with iron chelators, including desferrioxamine. This compound is known to be taken up by endocytosis only and thus to become localized in the lysosomal compartment. After exposure to oxidative stress, when cells were again in standard culture conditions, a time-dependent continuous increase in lysosomal rupture was observed, resulting in a considerably lowered number of intact lysosomes in apoptotic cells, whereas non-apoptotic cells from the same batch of oxidative-stress-exposed cells showed mainly intact lysosomes. Taken together, our results reinforce earlier findings and strongly suggest that lysosomal rupture is an early upstream initiating event, and a consequence of intralysosomal iron-catalysed oxidative processes, when apoptosis is induced by oxidative stress.