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Keywords:

  • mercury;
  • thymol;
  • genotoxicity;
  • apoptosis

ABSTRACT

Thymol (TOH) was investigated for its ability to protect against mercuric chloride (HgCl2)-induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity using human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2) cell line. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)−2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay confirmed the efficacy of TOH pretreatment in attenuating HgCl2-induced cytotoxicity. Pretreatment with TOH inhibited HgCl2-induced genotoxicity, depolarization of mitochondrial membrane, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial superoxide levels. Interestingly, TOH (100 µM) alone elevated the intracellular basal glutathione S-transferase (GST) levels and TOH pretreatment abrogated the decrease in glutathione, GST, superoxide dismutase, and catalase levels even after HgCl2 intoxication. Furthermore, TOH was also capable of inhibiting HgCl2-induced apoptotic as well as necrotic cell death analyzed by flowcytometric analysis of cells dual stained with Annexin-FITC/propidium iodide. The present findings clearly indicate the cytoprotective potential of TOH against HgCl2-induced toxicity, which may be attributed to its free radical scavenging ability which facilitated in reducing oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage thereby inhibiting cell death. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 30: 968–980, 2015.