Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 73, Issue 10–11, pp 594–606 | Cite as

A hepatotoxic dose of acetaminophen modulates expression of BCL-2, BCL-XL, and BCL-XS during apoptotic and necrotic death of mouse liver cells in vivo

  • Sidhartha D. Ray
  • Nilameni Jena


The protein BCL-XL and protein product of proto-oncogene bcl-2 act as apoptosis antagonists, and BCL-XS serve as a dominant death promoter, including apoptosis following exposure to chemotherapeutic drugs. This investigation examined whether some aspects of the highly integrated process of acetaminophen (AAP)-induced hepatotoxicity involve down-regulation or upregulation of expression of BCL-2, BCL-XL and BCL-XS in mouse liver in vivo. Male ICR mice (CD-1; 35–45 g) were treated ip with a hepatotoxic dose of AAP (500 mg/kg) and sacrificed 0, 6, and 18 h later. Blood was collected upon sacrifice for determination of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity and the liver was sectioned for histopathological diagnosis of necrosis/apoptosis. Portions of liver tissues were also used for DNA extraction (for gel electrophoresis) and Western blot analysis. This study demonstrates that administration of a hepatotoxic dose of AAP to ICR mice results in severe liver injury (ALT leakage >200-fold at 6 h and >600-fold at 18 h) leading to massive cell death by apoptosis (diagnosed by nuclear ultrastructure, histopathology, and DNA ladder), in addition to necrosis coupled with spectacular changes in the BCL-XL expression (6 and 18 h after AAP administration). Western blot analysis of the liver proteins revealed that mouse liver expresses two proteins, BCL-XL and BCL-XS, and does not express BCL-2. As the toxicity progressed, during 6 and 18 h post-AAP administration, the BCL-XL protein band shifted to a slower mobility band which might represent a phosphorylated form of BCL-XL. Appearance of this higher molecular weight BCL-XL protein band correlated with massive apoptotic death of liver cells along with ladder-like DNA fragmentation. In the same time period, death inhibitory gene bcl-2 remained unexpressed, and the level of expression of BCL-XS remained unaltered. Whether the consistent level of expression of BCL-XS reflected inability of AAP to influence its expression remains unknown. Unaltered expression of BCL-XS in the near total absence of BCL-2 expression raises questions regarding the death promoting role of BCL-XS in vivo. The precise role of modified form of BCL-XL remains elusive. However, this study may have demonstrated for the first time drug-induced changes in the expression of anti-apoptotic gene BCL-XL, and a positive link between AAP-induced apoptotic death and modification of BCL-XL protein in vivo.

Key words Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity Apoptosis bcl-XL expression DNA fragmentation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sidhartha D. Ray
    • 1
  • Nilameni Jena
    • 2
  1. 1.Molecular Toxicology Program, Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Medicinal Chemistry, Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA Tel.: 718-488-1638; Fax: 718-488-3437US
  2. 2.Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142, USAUS

Personalised recommendations