Apoptosis-inducing activity of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cultured PC12 cells


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are known to exert estrogen-like effects that are similar to those made by naturally produced hormones or by inhibition of the receptors in the cell receiving the hormones. Recently, several reports have indicated that EDCs can affect the developing central nervous system. In our current study, we report that some EDCs induce apoptosis in cultured PC12 cells and can be classified into three groups. Bisphenol A (BPA), p-nonylphenol (NP) and tributyltin chloride (TBT) were found to induce endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-associated apoptosis and activate the unfolded protein response (UPR) system, whereas benomyl (beno) induced non-ER stress-associated apoptosis. The half-maximal apoptosis-inducing concentrations (IC50) of these EDCs were 160 μM for BPA, 25.6 μM for NP, 640 nM for TBT and 48 μM for beno. Although these concentrations are higher than those found in the environment, some EDCs may have apoptotic effects on various cells in the body, including neurons, through their accumulation in the body over time or condensation through the food chain. On the other hand, benzopyrene, fenvalerate, styrene monomer and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate did not induce apoptosis in PC12 cells. We analyzed also whether apoptosis-inducing EDCs had an estrogen-like effect on cultured PC12 cells transfected with a luciferase reporter plasmid, the activity of which is dependent on estrogen receptor α. We found that BPA had an estrogen-like effect (EC50 = 5.9 μM) but that NP, TBT and beno did not in transfected PC12 cells. These results suggest that BPA may predomi-nantly exert estrogenic effects, but others may pre-dominantly have apoptosis-inducing effects on cells in the body exposed to a polluted environment.

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Sasaya, H. , Yasuzumi, K. , Maruoka, H. , Fujita, A. , Kato, Y. , Waki, T. , Shimoke, K. and Ikeuchi, T. (2012) Apoptosis-inducing activity of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cultured PC12 cells. Advances in Biological Chemistry, 2, 92-105. doi: 10.4236/abc.2012.22012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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