Role of the Nrf2-heme oxygenase-1 pathway in silver nanoparticle-mediated cytotoxicity

Silver nanoparticles (nano-Ag) were widely used in various commercial products including textiles, electronic appliances, and biomedical products. However, there remains insufficient information on the potential risk of nano-Ag to human health and environment. In the current study, the authors investigated the role of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor in nano-Ag-induced cytotoxicity. When Nrf2 expression was blocked using interring RNA expression in ovarian carcinoma cell line, nano-Ag treatment showed a substantial decrease in cell viability with concomitant increases in apoptosis and DNA damage compared to the control cells. Target gene analysis revealed that the expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was highly elevated by nano-Ag in nonspecific shRNA expressing cells, while Nrf2 knockdown cells (NRF2i) did not increase HO-1 expression. The role of HO-1 in cytoprotection against nano-Ag was reinforced by results using pharmacological inducer of HO-1: cobalt protoporphyrin-mediated HO-1 activation in the NRF2i cells prevented nano-Ag-mediated cell death. Similarly, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of HO-1 in nonspecific control cells exacerbated nano-Ag toxicity. As the upstream signalling mechanism, nano-Ag required the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and p38MAPK signalling cascades for HO-1 induction. The treatment with either PI3K inhibitor or p38MAPK inhibitor suppressed HO-1 induction and intensified nano-Ag-induced cell death. Taken together, these results suggest that Nrf2-dependent HO-1 up-regulation plays a protective role in nano-Ag-induced DNA damage and consequent cell death. In addition, nano-Ag-mediated HO-1 induction is associated with the PI3K and p38MAPK signalling pathways.

Authors: Kang, Su Jin; Ryoo, In-geun; Lee, Young Joon; Kwak, Mi-Kyoung ;Full Source: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology Chemical Hazards, Health, & Safety Issue 10, 2012 Page 9 2012, 258(1), 89-98 (Eng) ;