Problem We have previously shown that TNF-α−/− embryos are more sensitive to the exposure to cyclophosphamide (CP) compared with TNF-α+/+ embryos; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Thus, in our present study, we tried to identify those molecules that might be responsible for the protective effect of the cytokine.
Method of study CP-treated TNF-α−/− and TNF-α+/+ embryos were analyzed for changes in apoptosis by TUNEL and flow cytometry, while cell proliferation was analyzed by BrdU incorporation. The expression of Bax, bcl-2, p53, the p65 subunit of NF-κB and IκBα was assessed by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry.
Results CP-treated TNF-α−/− embryos exhibited a more profound decrease in their weight, which was accompanied by an earlier appearance of cellular damage and apoptotic cells and an earlier decrease in cell proliferation in the embryonic brain compared with TNF-α+/+ embryos. Also, an increased percentage of Bax-positive cells and a decreased percentage of bcl-2-positive cells were detected in TNF-α−/− embryos 48 hr after exposure, which were accompanied by a decreased percentage of p53-positive cells.
Conclusion Our data implicate TNF-α to be involved in the protection of the embryo against CP teratogenicity, possibly via alteration in Bax, bcl-2 or p53 expression.