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Early resistance to cell death and to onset of the mitochondrial permeability transition during hepatocarcinogenesis with 2-acetylaminofluorene

: Klöhn, P.-C.; Soriano, M.E.; Irwin, W.; Penzo, D.; Scorrano, L.; Bitsch, A.; Neumann, H.-G.; Bernardi, P.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : PNAS 100 (2003), No.17, pp.10014-10019
ISSN: 0027-8424
ISSN: 1091-6490
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ITEM ()
mitochondrial permeability; 2-acetylaminofluorene; liver; cancer

A hallmark of tumorigenesis is resistance to apoptosis. To explore whether resistance to cell death precedes tumor formation, we have studied the short-term effects of the hepatocarcinogen 2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF) on liver mitochondria, on hepatocytes, and on the response to bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in albino Wistar rats. We show that after as early as two weeks of AAF feeding liver mitochondria developed an increased resistance to opening of the permeability transition pore (PTP), an inner membrane channel that is involved in various forms of cell death. Consistent with a mitochondrial adaptive response in vivo, (i) AAF feeding increased the expression of BCL-2 in mitochondria, and (ii) hepatocytes isolated from AAF-fed rats became resistant to PTP-dependent depolarization, cytochrome c release, and cell death, which were instead observed in hepatocytes from rats fed a control diet. AAF-fed rats were fully protected from the hepatotoxic effects of the injection of 20-30 µg of LPS plus 700 mg of D-galactosamine (D-GalN) x kg[-1] of body weight, a treatment that in control rats readily caused a large increase of terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling-positive cells in liver cryosections and release of alanine and aspartate aminotransferase into the bloodstream. Treatment with LPS and D-GalN triggered cleavage of BID, a BCL-2 family member, in the livers of both control- and AAF-fed animals, whereas caspase 3 was cleaved only in control-fed animals, indicating that the mitochondrial proapoptotic pathway had been selectively suppressed during AAF feeding. Phenotypic reversion was observed after stopping the carcinogenic diet. These results underscore a key role of mitochondria in apoptosis and demonstrate that regulation of the mitochondrial PTP is altered early during AAF carcinogenesis, which matches, and possibly causes, the increased resistance of hepatocytes to death stimuli in vivo. Both events precede tumor formation, suggesting that suppression of apoptosis may contribute to the selection of a resistant phenotype, eventually increasing the probability of cell progression to the transformed state.