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N-acetyl-L-cysteine inhibits bleomycin induced apoptosis in malignant testicular germ cell tumors



Antioxidants may prevent apoptosis of cancer cells via inhibiting reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, to date no study has been carried out to elucidate the effects of strong antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on Bleomycin induced apoptosis in human testicular cancer (NTERA-2, NT2) cells. For this reason, we studied the effects of Bleomycin and NAC alone and in combination on apoptotic signaling pathways in NT2 cell line. We determined the cytotoxic effect of bleomycin on NT2 cells and measured apoptosis markers such as Caspase-3, -8, -9 activities and Bcl-2, Bax, Cyt-c, Annexin V-FTIC and PI levels in NT2 cells incubated with different agents for 24 h. Early apoptosis was determined using FACS assay. We found half of the lethal dose (LD50) of Bleomycin on NT2 cell viability as 400, 100, and 20 µg/ml after incubations for 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. Incubation with bleomycin (LD50) and H2O2 for 24 h increased Caspase-3, -8, -9 activities, Cyt-c and Bax levels and decreased Bcl-2 levels. The concurrent incubation of NT2 cells with bleomycin/H2O2 and NAC (5 mM) for 24 h abolished bleomycin/H2O2-dependent increases in Caspase-3, -8, -9 activities, Bax and Cyt-c levels and bleomycin/H2O2-dependent decrease in Bcl-2 level. Our results indicate that bleomycin/H2O2 induce apoptosis in NT2 cells by activating mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, while NAC diminishes bleomycin/H2O2 induced apoptosis. We conclude that NAC has antagonistic effects on Bleomycin-induced apoptosis in NT2 cells and causes resistance to apoptosis which is not a desired effect in eliminating cancer cells. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 1685–1694, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.