A-M Engelbrecht

Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa

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Publications (11)37.8 Total impact

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    G Leisching, B Loos, T Nell, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: Sutherlandia frutescens is a plant that is endemic to South Africa and is traditionally used for the treatment of cancer and many other ailments. Although previous studies have shown S. frutescens to exert anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects in human mammary adenocarcinoma- and leukemia cell lines, its potential cytotoxic effects on colon cancer cells have not yet been established. Moreover, limited information is available elucidating the major signaling pathways involved upon exposure to the herbal extract. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the cytotoxic effect of S. frutescens on the colon cancer cell line CaCo2, to investigate molecular role players of apoptosis and to assess the involvement of the PI3-K survival pathway. CaCo2 cells exposed to ethanolic extracts of S. frutescens showed significant decreased cell viability, indicated by reduced MTT reductive capacity, increased pyknosis as well as loss in cellular membrane integrity. Western blot analysis revealed a down-regulation in the PI3-K and Akt phosphorylation, a decrease in forkhead transcription factor (FKHR) phosphorylation as well as a concomitant induction of apoptosis. This study demonstrates that Sutherlandia treatment attenuates proliferation of colon cancer cells in vitro by the disruption of the key molecules in the PI-3K pathway thereby inducing apoptosis.
    South African Journal of Botany 04/2015; 100:20-26. DOI:10.1016/j.sajb.2015.04.013 · 1.34 Impact Factor
  • T.A. Davis, B Loos, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: The nucleoprotein AHNAK is an unusual and somewhat mysterious scaffolding protein characterised by its large size of approximately 700kDa. Several aspects of this protein remain uncertain, including its exact molecular function and regulation on both the gene and protein level. Various studies have attempted to annotate AHNAK and, notably, protein interaction and expression analyses have contributed greatly to our current understanding of the protein. The implicated biological processes are, however, very diverse, ranging from a role in the formation of the blood brain barrier, cell architecture and migration, to the regulation of cardiac calcium channels and muscle membrane repair. In addition, recent evidence suggests that AHNAK might be yet another accomplice in the development of tumour metastasis. This review will discuss the different functional roles of AHNAK, highlighting recent advancements that have added foundation to the proposed roles while identifying ties between these roles. Implications for related fields of research are noted and suggestions for future research that will assist in unravelling the function of AHNAK are offered.
    Cellular Signalling 08/2014; 26(12). DOI:10.1016/j.cellsig.2014.08.017 · 4.47 Impact Factor
  • M P Thomas, J Mills, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: It is well known that acute ischemia resulting from several pathophysiological conditions, disturb cellular function and lead to cell and tissue damage. An increasing body of evidence implies that the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-K) signaling pathway plays a key role in a multitude of cellular processes which include the regulation of cell death. However, the role of the PI3-K pathway during simulated ischemia (SI) is not yet fully understood and conflicting data exists in this regard. Therefore, we aimed to determine the role of the PI3K signaling pathway during acute SI in C2C12 myotubes and analyze the related impact on cell death parameters occurring within this context. Cells are grown in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS), and incubated under 5% CO(2) conditions, until reaching 90% confluency. Using DMEM supplemented with 1% horse serum, cell differentiation into myotubes was induced. Mitochondrial reductive capacity was assessed with the MTT assay. Phosphorylation of proteins was analyzed by Western blotting and immunocytochemistry was used to assess cell death. We present evidence that simulated ischemia attenuated PI3K activity which was also associated with decreased Akt-dependent phosphorylation at the level of FoxO1, FoxO4, TSC2 and mTOR. An ischemic microenvironment leads to a reduction in PI3K activity with subsequent induction of apoptosis.
    Life sciences 06/2012; 91(1-2):44-53. DOI:10.1016/j.lfs.2012.06.008 · 2.30 Impact Factor
  • B Loos, A Lochner, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process for long-lived proteins and organelles and is primarily responsible for nonspecific degradation of redundant or faulty cell components. Although autophagy has been described as the cell's major adaptive strategy in response to metabolic challenges, its influence on the cell's energy profile is poorly understood. In the myocardium, autophagy is active at basal levels and is crucial for maintaining its contractile function. Defects in the autophagic machinery cause cardiac dysfunction and heart failure. In this paper we propose that (1) autophagy contributes significantly to the metabolic balance sheet of the heart. (2) Increased autophagy contributes to an improved myocardial energy profile through changing the cardiac substrate preference. (3) Substrates generated through autophagy give rise to an alternative for ATP production with an oxygen-sparing effect. These elements identify autophagy in a new context of myocardial metabolic interregulation, which we discuss in the settings of myocardial infarction, heart failure and the diabetic heart. It is hoped that the hypothesis presented can lead to new insights aimed at exploiting autophagy to improve existing metabolic-based therapy in heart disease.
    Medical Hypotheses 07/2011; 77(1):52-7. DOI:10.1016/j.mehy.2011.03.021 · 1.15 Impact Factor
  • B Loos, S Genade, B Ellis, A Lochner, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: Ischemic cell injury leads to cell death. Three main morphologies have been described: apoptosis, cell death with autophagy and necrosis. Their inherent dynamic nature, a point of no return (PONR) and molecular overlap have been stressed. The relationship between a defined cell death type and the severity of injury remains unclear. The functional role of autophagy and its effects on cell death onset is largely unknown. In this study we report a differential induction of cell death, which is dependent on the severity and duration of an ischemic insult. We show that mild ischemia leads to the induction of autophagy and apoptosis, while moderate or severe ischemia induces both apoptotic and necrotic cell death without increased autophagy. The autophagic response during mild injury was associated with an ATP surge. Real-time imaging and Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) revealed that increased autophagy delays the PONR of both apoptosis and necrosis significantly. Blocking autophagy shifted PONR to an earlier point in time. Our results suggest that autophagic activity directly alters intracellular metabolic parameters, responsible for maintaining mitochondrial membrane potential and cellular membrane integrity. A similar treatment also improved functional recovery in the perfused rat heart. Taken together, we demonstrate a novel finding: autophagy is implicated only in mild injury and positions the PONR in cell death.
    Experimental Cell Research 03/2011; 317(10):1437-53. DOI:10.1016/j.yexcr.2011.03.011 · 3.37 Impact Factor
  • B Loos, R Smith, A-M Engelbrecht
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    ABSTRACT: Both the cytokine tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and the enzyme cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) have been implicated in ischaemic injury. Apart from the induction of apoptosis, TNF-alpha also mediates cytoprotection when present in low concentrations. However, the relationship between TNF-alpha and cPLA2 activities during cytoprotection is poorly understood. Therefore, we examined the role of cPLA2 in TNF-alpha-mediated (TNF-PC) and ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) in tolerance to ischaemia (SI) in C2C12 myotubes. Significant decreases in cPLA2 phosphorylation in SI compared with the preconditioned groups were observed. This was also mirrored by the p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation pattern. These results correlated with fluorescence- and three-dimensional imaging, demonstrating increased translocation of phospho-cPLA2 to the nuclear region in SI compared to TNF-PC and IPC. These data suggest a p38 driven cPLA2 translocation pattern, with a possible role for cPLA2 in deciding cell fate.
    Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 07/2008; 78(6):403-13. DOI:10.1016/j.plefa.2008.05.002 · 1.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the chemopreventative/antiproliferative potential of a grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) against colon cancer cells (CaCo2 cells) and to investigate its mechanism of action. GSPE (10-100 microg/ml) significantly inhibited cell viability and increased apoptosis in CaCo2 cells, but did not alter viability in the normal colon cell line (NCM460). The increased apoptosis observed in GSPE-treated CaCo2 cells correlated with an attenuation of PI3-kinase (p110 and p85 subunits) and decreased PKB Ser(473) phosphorylation. GSPE might thus exert its beneficial effects by means of increased apoptosis and suppression of the important PI3-kinase survival-related pathway.
    Cancer Letters 01/2008; 258(1):144-53. DOI:10.1016/j.canlet.2007.08.020 · 5.02 Impact Factor
  • A-M Engelbrecht, B Ellis
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    ABSTRACT: It has become increasingly clear that apoptosis plays a major role in ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced cell death, but the molecular basis of this process remains to be elucidated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of cPLA(2) in MAPK phosphorylation and apoptosis in simulated ischaemia/reperfusion (SI/R)-induced injury in neonatal cardiomyocytes. Inhibition of cPLA(2) with AACOCF(3) significantly improved cell viability during SI/R (60.17+/-1.77 to 80.17+/-1.97%, p<0.05). The increase in cell viability was associated with a significant inhibition of p38 phosphorylation (135.3+/-4.47% to 87.94+/-10.71%, p<0.001) as well as with a significant decrease in caspase-3- (320.32+/-17.32% to 146.7+/-28.69%, p<0.01) and PARP-(263.9+/-8.15% to 154.7+/-2.24%, p<0.001) cleavage during SI/R. This study provides evidence for a role for cPLA(2) during SI/R-induced injury. It appears that p38 MAPK is a central role player in the signalling pathway involved.
    Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 08/2007; 77(1):37-43. DOI:10.1016/j.plefa.2007.06.002 · 1.98 Impact Factor
  • A-M Engelbrecht, S Gebhardt, L Louw
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    ABSTRACT: Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death in developing countries and is the second highest occurring cancer in women all over the world. The progression of cancer is a multistep process affecting aspects of cellular function such as proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs), which include p38-MAPK, c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are closely associated with cell proliferation and apoptosis and the balance between them could determine a cell's fate. Despite the expanding research effort in vitro, little is known about MAPK activation in clinical specimens of cervical cancer. Therefore, the aim of this ex vivo study was to correlate the phosphorylation status (activity) of MAPKs (p38-MAPK, JNK and ERK), as well as poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and caspase-3 (two cellular markers of apoptosis), during the different stages of cervical carcinogenesis, to observe whether correlations between MAPK activities and apoptosis during the disease process exist. Decreased p38-MAPK phosphorylation was found in the carcinoma (Ca) group) compared to the normal tissues, as well when the low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion--LSIL) group and high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion--HSIL) group were compared with the Ca group. Interestingly, a significant decrease in ERK44 phosphorylation was observed in Ca when compared to LSIL and HSIL. There was also a significant decrease in JNK phosphorylation in Ca when compared with normal tissue and HSIL. As expected, caspase-3 activation and PARP cleavage was significantly lower in Ca when compared with normal tissue. Our results present the first evidence of in vivo involvement of MAPKs in cervical cancer and indicate a possible correlation between MAPK activities and apoptosis in the disease process.
    Cancer Letters 05/2006; 235(1):93-9. DOI:10.1016/j.canlet.2005.04.005 · 5.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms by which long-chain dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) protect against cardiovascular disease are largely unknown. The present study determines the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) on the response of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes to simulated ischaemia (SI) and reperfusion (R). Myocytes isolated from 1-2 day old Wistar rat hearts were cultured with or without EPA or ARA and exposed to 1 h SI followed by 30 minutes reperfusion. Apoptosis was evaluated by caspase-3 activation, poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage and nuclear condensation. EPA (20microM) and ARA (20microM) significantly inhibited caspase-3 activation and PARP-cleavage and reduced the apoptotic index during reperfusion. Both fatty acids significantly increased ERK phosphorylation and decreased p38 phosphorylation during reperfusion. The mechanism of action of ARA on the MAPKs was further investigated with okadaic acid (to inhibit serine-threonine phosphatases) and orthovanadate (to inhibit tyrosine phosphatases). Vanadate, but not okadaic acid, significantly reduced ARA-induced inhibition of p38 phosphorylation, suggesting the involvement a tyrosine phosphatase during SI/R. Mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1), a dual-specificity phosphatase, was targeted and a significant induction of MKP-1 by ARA and EPA was observed. It was demonstrated for the first time that EPA and ARA protect neonatal cardiac myocytes from ischaemia/reperfusion-induced apoptosis through activation of ERK as well as induction of a dual-specific phosphatase, causing dephosphorylation of the pro-apoptotic kinase, p38. The cardioprotective effects of EPA and ARA could also be demonstrated on the functional recovery of isolated perfused hearts subjected to global ischemia.
    Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 01/2006; 39(6):940-54. DOI:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2005.08.004 · 5.22 Impact Factor
  • A-M Engelbrecht, C Niesler, C Page, A Lochner
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    ABSTRACT: Rat neonatal ventricular myocytes exposed to simulated ischaemia and reperfusion (SI/R) were used as an in vitro model to delineate the role(s) of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p38 and c-Jun NH(2)-terminal protein kinase (JNK), as well as PKB in apoptosis. Exposure of the myocytes to SI (simulated ischaemia - energy depletion induced by KCN and 2-deoxy- D-glucose) reduced cell viability, as measured by the 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, and stimulated apoptosis as evidenced by caspase-3 activation and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage. However, morphological evidence of increased apoptosis, detected by staining with Hoechst 33342, was only seen in response to reperfusion. This suggests that although ischaemic conditions are sufficient to induce cellular markers of apoptosis (PARP cleavage and caspase-3 activation), reperfusion is required to complete the apoptotic pathway in these cells. Furthermore, SI resulted in a rapid, strong, biphasic activation of p38 concomitant with a weak and transient activation of the two ERK isoenzymes, p42/p44-MAPK. Reperfusion for 5 minutes resulted in a strong phosphorylation of p42/p44-MAPK, while no additional p38 activation was seen at this stage. On the other hand, p46/p54-MAPK (JNK) was phosphorylated in response to 5 minutes of reperfusion only and not during SI alone. A peak of PKB/Akt (Ser(473)) activity was seen within 5 minutes of exposure to SI, whereas PKB/Akt (Thr(308)) phosphorylation remained at the baseline level. Both PKB/Akt phosphorylation sites (Ser(473) and Thr(308)) were phosphorylated after 5 minutes of reperfusion. Inhibition of PI-3-kinase activity, using wortmannin, decreased phosphorylation on both sites during SI. However, only SI/R-induced PKB/Akt phosphorylation on Thr(308) was reduced by wortmannin. Myocytes pre-treated with SB203580, a p38-inhibitor, displayed a significant increase in cell viability [63.67 +/- 1.85 to 84.33 +/- 4.8% (p < 0.05)] and attenuation of the apoptotic index during SI/R [22.6 +/- 2.94% to 9 +/- 0.43% (p < 0.001)], while SP600125, a specific JNK inhibitor, caused a significant increase in caspase-3 activation [1.66 +/- 0.03 fold to 2.56 +/- 0.27 fold (p < 0.001)] and apoptotic index [22.6 +/- 2.94% to 32.75 +/- 6.13% (p < 0.05)]. However, PD98059, an ERK inhibitor, failed to affect apoptosis during SI/R. Inhibition of PI-3-kinase prevented the increase in mitochondrial viability usually observed during reperfusion. Interestingly, wortmannin caused a significant increase in PARP cleavage during reperfusion, but had no effect on caspase-3 activation or the apoptotic index. Our results suggest that p38 has a pro-apoptotic role while JNK phosphorylation is protective in our cell model and that these kinases act via caspase-3 to prevent or promote cell survival in response to SI/R-induced injury.
    Archiv für Kreislaufforschung 10/2004; 99(5):338-50. DOI:10.1007/s00395-004-0478-3 · 5.96 Impact Factor