Emodin induces apoptosis through caspase 3-dependent pathway in HK-2 cells

Jiangsu Center for Drug Screening, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China.
Toxicology (Impact Factor: 3.75). 04/2007; 231(2-3):120-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2006.11.064
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Emodin (1,3,8-trihydroxy-6-methylanthraquinone) is a major constituent of rhubarb. Although it has been claimed to have a wild spectrum of therapeutic value, its side effects, especially in human kidney cells have not been well characterized. In the present study, we treated human proximal tubular epithelial cell line HK-2 cells with emodin in vitro and evaluated its toxic effects with cell viability, cell cycle phases and induction of apoptosis/necrosis and activity of caspase 3. The proliferation of HK-2 cells was inhibited by emodin in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Cell cycle analysis revealed that HK-2 cells were locked in G1 phase by emodin as for 12h. Apoptosis was supported by the Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) assay and the occurrence of a sub-G1 peak. Emodin caused an increase in caspase 3-like activities and a caspase 3 inhibitor, Ac-DEVD-CHO, attenuated the apoptosis. These results suggested that HK-2 cells are sensitive to emodin-induced cytotoxic effects, which are mediated through the induction of apoptosis in caspase 3-dependent pathway.

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    ABSTRACT: Emodin, a major compound in total rhubarb anthraquinones (TRAs), has exhibited nephrotoxicity in Sprague Dawley rats and cytotoxicity to HK-2 cells, a human proximal tubular epithelial cell line, in our previous study. However, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying emodin-induced cytotoxicity remain undefined. In this study, the exposure of HK-2 cells to emodin led to decreased cell viability, caspase 3 cleavage and activation, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), and cytochrome c release from mitochondria to cytosol. Meanwhile, the levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) mRNA and protein expression were elevated. GW9662, an antagonist of PPARγ, dramatically ameliorated the release of cytochrome c, the activation of caspase 3, and the reduction of cell viability induced by emodin. Importantly, emodin at the concentration causing apoptosis enhanced the stability of PPARγ mRNA. Taken together, these findings suggest that PPARγ might mediate, at least in part, emodin-induced HK-2 cell apoptosis via mitochondrial pathway.
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