Differing sensitivity of tumor cells to apoptosis induced by iron deprivation in vitro

Cell and Tissue Models


We studied the sensitivity of tumor cells to the induction of apoptosis by iron deprivation. Iron deprivation was achieved by the employment of a defined iron-deficient culture medium. Mouse 38C13 cells and human Raji cells die within 48 and 96 h of incubation in iron-deficient medium, respectively. On the contrary, mouse EL4 cells and human HeLa cells are completely resistant to the induction of death under the same experimental arrangement. Deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation analysis by agarose gel electrophoresis as well as flow cytometric analysis after propidium iodide staining detected in 38C13 and Raji cells, but not in EL4 and HeLa cells, changes characteristic to apoptosis. The 38C13 cells, sensitive to iron deprivation, also displayed a similar degree of sensitivity to apoptosis induction by thiol deprivation (achieved by 2-mercaptoethanol withdrawal from the culture medium) as well as by rotenone (50 nM), hydroxyurea (50 μM), methotrexate (20 nM), and doxorubicin (100 nM). Raji cells shared with 38C13 cells a sensitivity to rotenone, methotrexate, doxorubicin, and, to a certain degree, to hydroxyurea. However, Raji cells were completely resistant to thiol deprivation. EL4 and HeLa cells, resistant to iron deprivation, also displayed a greater degree of resistance to most of the other apoptotic stimuli than did their sensitive counterparts. We conclude that some tumor cells in vitro are sensitive to apoptosis induction by iron deprivation, while other tumor cells are resistant. All the tumors found to be sensitive to iron deprivation in this study (four cell lines) are of hematopoietic origin. The mechanism of resistance to apoptosis induction by iron deprivation differs from the mechanism of resistance to thiol deprivation.

Key words

sensitivity to apoptosis apoptosis induction iron deprivation tumor cell lines 


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Copyright information

© Society for In Vitro Biology 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Kovář
    • 1
  • Tomáš Valenta
    • 1
  • Hana Štýbrová
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Molecular GeneticsAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPrague 4Czech Republic

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