Biphasic effect of arsenite on cell proliferation and apoptosis is associated with the activation of JNK and ERK1/2 in human embryo lung fibroblast cells


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Abstract

Biphasic dose–response relationship induced by environmental agents is often characterized with the effect of low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition. Some studies showed that arsenite may induce cell proliferation and apoptosis via biphasic dose–response relationship in human cells; however, mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well understood. In the present study, we aimed at investigating the relationship between biphasic effect of arsenite on cell proliferation and apoptosis and activation of JNK and ERK1/2 in human embryo lung fibroblast (HELF) cells. Our results demonstrated that cell proliferation may be stimulated at lower concentrations (0.1 and 0.5 μM) arsenite but inhibited at higher concentrations (5 and 10 μM). When cell apoptosis was used as the endpoint, the concentration–response curves were changed to U-shapes. During stimulation phospho-JNK levels were significantly increased at 3, 6, and 12 h after 0.1 or 0.5 μM arsenite exposure. Phospho-ERK1/2 levels were increased with different concentrations (0.1–10 μM) of arsenite at 6, 12, and 24 h. Blocking of JNK pathway with 20 μM SP600125 or ERK1/2 by 100 μM PD98059 significantly inhibited biphasic effect of arsenite in cells. Data in the present study suggest that activation of JNK and ERK1/2 may be involved in biphasic effect of arsenite when measuring cell proliferation and apoptosis in HELF cells. JNK activation seems to play a more critical role than ERK1/2 activation in the biphasic process.

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