, Volume 228, Issue 1, pp 89-97
Date: 12 Mar 2008

Acetylsalicylic acid induces programmed cell death in Arabidopsis cell cultures

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Abstract

Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), a derivative from the plant hormone salicylic acid (SA), is a commonly used drug that has a dual role in animal organisms as an anti-inflammatory and anticancer agent. It acts as an inhibitor of cyclooxygenases (COXs), which catalyze prostaglandins production. It is known that ASA serves as an apoptotic agent on cancer cells through the inhibition of the COX-2 enzyme. Here, we provide evidences that ASA also behaves as an agent inducing programmed cell death (PCD) in cell cultures of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, in a similar way than the well-established PCD-inducing agent H2O2, although the induction of PCD by ASA requires much lower inducer concentrations. Moreover, ASA is herein shown to be a more efficient PCD-inducing agent than salicylic acid. ASA treatment of Arabidopsis cells induces typical PCD-linked morphological and biochemical changes, namely cell shrinkage, nuclear DNA degradation, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, cytochrome c release from mitochondria and induction of caspase-like activity. However, the ASA effect can be partially reverted by jasmonic acid. Taking together, these results reveal the existence of common features in ASA-induced animal apoptosis and plant PCD, and also suggest that there are similarities between the pathways of synthesis and function of prostanoid-like lipid mediators in animal and plant organisms.