Safrole-induced cellular Ca2+ increases and death in human osteosarcoma cells

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The effect of the carcinogen safrole on intracellular Ca2+ movement has not been explored in osteoblast-like cells. This study examined whether safrole could alter Ca2+ handling and viability in MG63 human osteosarcoma cells. Cytosolic free Ca2+ levels ([Ca2+]i) in populations of cells were measured using fura-2 as a fluorescent Ca2+ probe. Safrole at concentrations above 130 μM increased [Ca2+]i in a concentration-dependent manner with an EC50 value of 450 μM. The Ca2+ signal was reduced by 30% by removing extracellular Ca2+. Addition of Ca2+ after safrole had depleted intracellular Ca2+ induced Ca2+ influx, suggesting that safrole caused Ca2+ entry. In Ca2+-free medium, after pretreatment with 650 μM safrole, 1 μM thapsigargin (an endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ pump inhibitor) failed to release more Ca2+; and pretreatment with thapsigargin inhibited most of the safrole-induced [Ca2+]i increases. Inhibition of phospholipase C with U73122 did not affect safrole-induced Ca2+ release; whereas activation of protein kinase C with phorbol ester enhanced safrole-induced [Ca2+]i increase. Trypan exclusion assays revealed that incubation with 65 μM safrole for 30 min did not kill cells, but incubation with 650 μM safrole for 10–30 min nearly killed all cells. Flow cytometry demonstrated that safrole evoked apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner. Safrole-induced cytotoxicity was not reversed by chelation of Ca2+ with BAPTA. Collectively, the data suggest that in MG63 cells, safrole induced a [Ca2+]i increase by causing Ca2+ release mainly from the endoplasmic reticulum in a phospholipase C-independent manner. The safrole response involved Ca2+ influx and is modulated by protein kinase C. Furthermore, safrole can cause apoptosis in a Ca2+-independent manner.

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