How does ethanol induce apoptotic cell death of SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells?*○

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Abstract

Research Highlights

(1) Previous studies have demonstrated that ethanol influences the secretion of neurotrophins, promotes oxidative stress, reduces the absorption of nutritive substances, and thereby induces neuronal damage.

Research Highlights

(2) Recent evidence has demonstrated that ethanol can directly induce apoptotic cell death of the neurons and initiate c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase and p38 kinase pathway.

Research Highlights

(3) By using SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells, this study investigated the mechanism behind ethanol-induced neural cell apoptosis.

Research Highlights

(4) Results from this study indicate that ethanol mediates apoptosis of SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells by activating p53-related cell cycle arrest possibly through activation of the c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase-related cell death pathway.

A body of evidence suggests that ethanol can lead to damage of neuronal cells. However, the mechanism underlying the ethanol-induced damage of neuronal cells remains unclear. The role of mitogen-activated protein kinases in ethanol-induced damage was investigated in SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells. 3-[4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide cell viability assay, DNA fragmentation detection, and flow cytometric analysis showed that ethanol induced apoptotic cell death and cell cycle arrest, characterized by increased caspase-3 activity, DNA fragmentation, nuclear disruption, and G1 arrest of cell cycle of the SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells. In addition, western blot analysis indicated that ethanol induced a lasting increase in c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase activity and a transient increase in p38 kinase activity of the neuroblastoma cells. c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase or p38 kinase inhibitors significantly reduced the ethanol-induced cell death. Ethanol also increased p53 phosphorylation, followed by an increase in p21 tumor suppressor protein and a decrease in phospho-Rb (retinoblastoma) protein, leading to alterations in the expressions and activity of cyclin dependent protein kinases. Our results suggest that ethanol mediates apoptosis of SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells by activating p53-related cell cycle arrest possibly through activation of the c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase-related cell death pathway.

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