PCB153 reduces telomerase activity and telomere length in immortalized human skin keratinocytes (HaCaT) but not in human foreskin keratinocytes (NFK)


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Abstract

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), ubiquitous environmental pollutants, are characterized by long term-persistence in the environment, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification in the food chain. Exposure to PCBs may cause various diseases, affecting many cellular processes. Deregulation of the telomerase and the telomere complex leads to several biological disorders. We investigated the hypothesis that PCB153 modulates telomerase activity, telomeres and reactive oxygen species resulting in the deregulation of cell growth. Exponentially growing immortal human skin keratinocytes (HaCaT) and normal human foreskin keratinocytes (NFK) were incubated with PCB153 for 48 and 24 days, respectively, and telomerase activity, telomere length, superoxide level, cell growth, and cell cycle distribution were determined. In HaCaT cells exposure to PCB153 significantly reduced telomerase activity, telomere length, cell growth and increased intracellular superoxide levels from day 6 to day 48, suggesting that superoxide may be one of the factors regulating telomerase activity, telomere length and cell growth compared to untreated control cells. Results with NFK cells showed no shortening of telomere length but reduced cell growth and increased superoxide levels in PCB153-treated cells compared to untreated controls. As expected, basal levels of telomerase activity were almost undetectable, which made a quantitative comparison of treated and control groups impossible. The significant down regulation of telomerase activity and reduction of telomere length by PCB153 in HaCaT cells suggest that any cell type with significant telomerase activity, like stem cells, may be at risk of premature telomere shortening with potential adverse health effects for the affected organism.

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