Induction by arsenate of cell-type-specific cytotoxic effects in nerve and hepatoma cells

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The aim of the study was to compare the effect of sodium arsenate (AsV) on two different cell types: 158N murine oligodendrocytes and HepG2 human hepatoma cells. Exposure of 158N cells to AsV (0.1–400 µM; 48 h) induced a biphasic cytoxic effect defined as hormesis. Thus, low concentrations of AsV stimulate cell proliferation, as shown by phase-contrast microscopy, cell counting with trypan blue, and crystal violet assay, whereas high concentrations induce cell death associated with a loss of cell adhesion. These side effects were confirmed by staining with propidium iodide and cell cycle analysis, characterized by the presence of a subG1 peak, a criterion of apoptosis. The effects of AsV on mitochondrial function, as determined by the 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium (MTT) assay, the measurement of mitochondrial transmembrane potential with 3,3′-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide, and the rate of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate confirm the impact of AsV on the mitochondria. In contrast to 158N cells, HepG2 cells were susceptible to all AsV concentrations as shown by microscopic observations, by counting with trypan blue. However, no alteration is noted in the cell membrane integrity, which indicated an apoptotic mode of cell death, and this side effect is confirmed by the cycle analysis, which revealed a subG1 peak. Of note, there was a loss of MTT, suggesting that AsV induces mitochondrial complex II dysfunction. Altogether, our data show that the cytotoxic characteristics of AsV depend on the cell type considered.

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