Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 379, Issue 1–2, pp 37–42 | Cite as

Role of mitochondrial Bax, caspases, and MAPKs for ceramide-induced apoptosis in renal proximal tubular cells



It remains elusive whether crosstalk exists among mitochondrial Bax, caspases, and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and whether epidermal growth factor (EGF), which may activate MAPKs, affects ceramide-induced apoptosis through the crosstalk in renal proximal tubular cells (RPTCs). Effect of ceramide on expression of mitochondrial Bax and phosphorylated (p)-ERK, p38MAPK and JNK, that of MAPKs inhibition, and of EGF in the presence or absence of MAPKs inhibition on ceramide-induced apoptosis were examined in HK-2 cells. Apoptosis and expression of mitochondrial Bax and p-MAPKs were measured by Hoechst 33258 staining and Western blotting. C2-ceramide, but not dihydroC2-ceramide, inactive C2-ceramide, induced apoptosis at 24 h. C2-ceramide enhanced the mitochondrial Bax expression at 1 h, which was peaked at 3–6 h and decreased at 24 h, but remained increased, compared to control. An inhibitor of caspases, zVAD-fmk, ameliorated ceramide-induced apoptosis, suggesting a role of caspases for ceramide-induced apoptosis. C2-ceramide enhanced the expression of p-ERK and p-p38MAPK, but not p-JNK, at 1 h, which was increased till 24 h. An inhibitor of ERK, PD98059, or of p38MAPK, SB202190, failed to affect C2-ceramide-induced apoptosis. EGF, which enhanced the expression of p-ERK and p-p38MAPK but not p-JNK, ameliorated C2-ceramide-induced apoptosis without affecting mitochondrial Bax. Inhibition of ERK or p38MAPK failed to abolish the protective effect of EGF on C2-ceramide-induced apoptosis. Mitochondrial Bax and caspases, but not MAPKs, play a role for ceramide-induced apoptosis in RPTCs. EGF ameliorates ceramide-induced apoptosis in Bax- and MAPKs-independent pathways. The mechanism of ceramide-induced apoptosis and anti-apoptotic effect of EGF deserves further investigations.


Bax Caspases Ceramide Epidermal growth factor Mitogen-activated protein kinases Renal proximal tubules 



We thank Mrs. M. Miyake for her technical assistance. This study has been supported by the Aichi Kidney Foundation and the Nagono Medical Foundation.

Conflict of interest

None is declared.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsNagoya University Graduate School of MedicineNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Developmental PediatricsNagoya University Graduate School of MedicineNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsPublic Central Hospital of Matto IshikawaHakusanJapan

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