The mode of cisplatin-induced cell death in CYP2E1-overexpressing HepG2 cells: modulation by ERK, ROS, glutathione, and thioredoxin

Document Type


Publication Date



In a previous study, E47 HepG2 cells that overexpress human CYP2E1 were shown to be more sensitive to cisplatin than C34 cells that do not express CYP2E1. In this study, we found that this sensitivity was due to an earlier activation of ERK in the E47 cells compared to the C34 cells. Glutathione depletion by l-buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) enhanced cisplatin cytotoxicity via increasing production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activation of ERK. In contrast, elevation of glutathione by glutathione ethyl ester (GSHE) decreased cisplatin/BSO cytotoxicity by decreasing ROS production and ERK activation. Inhibition of ERK activation by U0126 protected against cisplatin/BSO cytotoxicity via inhibiting ROS production but not restoring intracellular glutathione content. Examination of the mode of cell death showed that U0126 inhibited cisplatin-induced necrosis but not apoptosis. Cisplatin-induced apoptosis was caspases-dependent; BSO switched cisplatin-induced apoptosis to necrosis via decreasing activity of caspases, and GSHE switched cisplatin/BSO-induced necrosis back to apoptosis through maintaining activity of caspases. Similar to GSHE, U0126 partially switched cisplatin/BSO induced necrosis to apoptosis via restoring activity of caspases. Cisplatin lowered levels of thioredoxin, especially in the presence of BSO. Although U0126 failed in restoring intracellular glutathione levels, it restored thioredoxin levels, which maintain the activity of the caspases. These results suggest that thioredoxin can replace glutathione to promote the active thiol redox state necessary for caspase activity, and thus glutathione and thioredoxin regulate the mode of cisplatin toxicity in E47 cells via redox regulation of caspase activity.


The version of record is available at

Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.