, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 777-786

Intracellular free iron and acidic pathways mediate TNF-induced death of rat hepatoma cells

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Rat hepatoma HTC cells are intrinsically resistant to various apoptosis-inducing agents. Strategies to induce death in hepatoma cells are needed and the present experimental study was aimed to investigate the sensitivity of HTC cells to TNF and to clarify the mechanisms of action of this cytokine. Cells were treated with TNF and death mechanisms characterized employing an integration of morphological and biochemical techniques. HTC cells, sensitized to TNF toxicity with cycloheximide, died in a caspase-independent apoptosis-like manner. Although we found no evidence for a direct involvement of lysosomal cathepsins, bafilomycin A1 and ammonium chloride significantly attenuated TNF toxicity. Also desferrioxamine mesylate, an iron chelator, partly protected the cells from TNF, while a complete protection was afforded by combining ammonium chloride and iron chelator. Moreover, HTC were protected from TNF also by lipophylic antioxidants and diphenylene iodonium chloride, a NADPH oxidase inhibitor. These data depict a novel mechanism of TNF-mediated cytotoxicity in HTC cells, in which the endo-lysosomal compartment, NADPH oxidase and an iron-mediated pro-oxidant status contribute in determining a caspase-independent, apoptosis-like cell death.