Characterization of lapachol cytotoxicity: contribution of glutathione depletion for oxidative stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

  • Frederico A. V. Castro
  • Gabriel F. M. de Souza
  • Marcos D. PereiraEmail author
Original Article


Over the years, quinones or its derivatives have been extensively studied due to their broad therapeutic spectrum. However, due to the significant structural differences between the individual naturally occurring quinones, investigation of the precise mechanism of their action is essential. In this context, we have analyzed the mechanism of lapachol [4-hydroxy-3-(3-methylbut-2-enyl)naphthalene-1,2-dione] toxicity using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as eukaryotic model organism. Analyzing yeast (wild type, sod1∆, and gsh1∆) cell growth, we observed a strong cytostatic effect caused by lapachol exposure. Moreover, survival of cells was affected by time- and dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, sod1∆ cells were more prone to lapachol toxicity. In this sense, mitochondrial functioning of sod1∆ cells were highly affected by exposure to this quinone. Lapachol also decreased glutathione (GSH) levels in wild type and sod1∆ cells even though glutathione disulfide (GSSG) remained unchanged. We believe that reduction of GSH contents has contributed to the enhancement of lipid peroxidation and intracellular oxidation, effect much more pronounced in sod1∆ cells. Overall, the collected data suggest that although lapachol can act as an oxidant, it seems that the main mechanism of its action initially consists in alkylation of intracellular targets such as GSH and then generating oxidative stress.


Funding information

This study received financial support from the Brazilian funding institutions CAPES, CNPq, and FAPERJ that allowed this work to be carried out.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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