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Biological effects of inorganic arsenic on primary cultures of rat astrocytes

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It is well established that inorganic arsenic induces neurotoxic effects and neurological defects in humans and laboratory animals. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of its actions, however, remain elusive. Herein we report the effects of arsenite (NaAsO2) on primary cultures of rat astrocytes. Cells underwent induction of heat shock protein 70 only at the highest doses of inorganic arsenic (30 and 60 µM), suggesting a high threshold to respond to stress. We also investigated arsenic genotoxicity with the comet assay. Interestingly, although cells treated with 10 µM arsenite for 24 h maintained >70% viability, with respect to untreated cells, high DNA damage was already observed. Since arsenic is not known to be a direct-acting genotoxic agent, we investigated the possibility that its effects are due, in astrocytes as well, to ROS formation, as already described for other cell types. However, FACS analysis after CM-H2DCFDA staining did not evidence any significant increase of ROS production while, on the contrary, at the highest arsenite concentrations used, ROS production decreased. Concordantly, we found that, if most cells in the culture are still alive (i.e. up to 10 µM arsenite), they show a treatment-dependent increase in the concentration of SOD1. On the other hand, SOD2 concentration did not change. Finally, we found that astrocytes also synthesize PIPPin, an RNA-binding protein, the concentration of which was recently reported to change in response to stress induced by cadmium. Here we also report that, in cells exposed to high doses of arsenite, an anti-PIPPin antibody-positive faster migrating protein appears.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e dello Sviluppo, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy

Publication date: October 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Molecular Medicine is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the publication of high quality studies related to the molecular mechanisms of human disease. The journal welcomes research on all aspects of molecular and clinical research, ranging from biochemistry to immunology, pathology, genetics, human genomics, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis, molecular cardiology, molecular surgery and molecular psychology.

    The International Journal of Molecular Medicine aims to provide an insight for researchers within the community in regard to developing molecular tools and identifying molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of a diverse number of human diseases.
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