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1,4,7,10,13,16-Hexaazacyclooctadecane (Hexacyclen) Induced Nitrosative Stress and Downregulated NF-κB Cell Survival Pathway in Human Embryonic Kidney (Hek293) and Colorectal Adenocarcinoma (Caco2) Cells.

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common malignancy detected and the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Mammalian cells require metals for the physiological process as they are part of the structure or co-factor of many proteins. However, excessive accumulation may manifest in toxicity. In addition, the promotion of oncogenesis and tumour growth has been associated with an increased presence of metals. Promising anticancer compounds that disrupt the onset and progression of carcinogenesis are currently being intensely investigated by the scientific community. Hexacyclen, a nitrogen electron donor and a potent metal ion chelator that binds various metal and transition metal cations, is one such anticancer drug. The cytotoxic effects of Hexacyclen on human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells (Caco2) and normal embryonic kidney cells (Hek293) were investigated in this work after acute exposure (48 hours). The toxicity of Hexacyclen was studied in Hek293 and Caco2 cells at different concentration ranges [(0-500 μM) and (0-50 μM), respectively]. The MTT (to determine IC20 and IC50), ATP and mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨM) assays were used to assess metabolic activity, while TBARS, NOS and GSH assays were used to assess oxidative activity. Caspase activity (-8, -9, -3/7), phosphatidylserine externalisation and LDH leakage were used to assess cell death by apoptosis. In addition, western blotting was used to examine the expression of antioxidant (SOD2, GPx, catalase), pro-and anti-apoptotic (p-p53, Bcl-2, HSP70, PARP, cPARP) and inflammatory (NF-κB, STAT3 and p-STAT3) proteins. From the dose-dependent MTT curve, an IC20 and IC50 of 6μM and 38μM (Hek293) and 1.2μM and 5μM (Caco2 cells) were determined. The decreased ATP concentration in Hek293 (p<0.05) and Caco2 (p>0.05) cells for both treatments was consistent with altered ΔΨM in both cell lines, indicating reduced metabolic activity. Elevated RNS was implied by increased iNOS particularly at the Caco2 IC50 (p<0.05) that promoted nitric oxide production at the IC20 (p>0.05) and IC50 (p<0.05) for Hek293 and Caco2 cells respectively. The decreased MDA in Hek293 cells (p>0.05) was associated with increased SOD2 (p<0.05) and GPx (p<0.05), while slightly increased MDA in Caco2 cells (p>0.05) accompanied increased SOD2 (p>0.05) and GPx (p<0.05 at the IC50 only). Furthermore, GSH levels were increased significantly in IC50-treated Hek293 and Caco2 cells (p<0.05), but downregulation of catalase in Hek293 and Caco2 cells was not significant. In this study, apoptosis was initiated by an increase in caspase-9 (IC50, p<0.05) but not caspase 8, which was decreased for both treatments in Hek293 cells (p<0.05). In Caco2 cells, caspase-8 (p<0.05) and caspase 9 (p>0.05) were increased. Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 (p<0.05) and HSP70 (p<0.05 for Caco2 cells) were downregulated in both cell lines. The activity of p-p53 was not affected in IC20, whereas it was significantly reduced in IC50-treated (p<0.05) in Hek293 and Caco2 cells. Apoptosis was executed as caspase 3/7 was increased in all treatments (p<0.05), albeit non-significantly for IC20-treated Hek293 cells. Moreover, phosphatidylserine externalisation, an early apoptosis marker, was increased in both cell lines (p<0.05 for IC50-treated Hek293 cells), while LDH (a late marker) was increased for Hek293 cells (p<0.05) but not Caco2 cells (p>0.05). Interestingly, decreased cPARP/PARP activity was observed for IC50-treated cells (p<0.05) in both cell lines. Finally, the inflammatory markers NF-κB (p>0.05 for IC20-treated Hek293 cells) and p-STAT3/STAT3 (p>0.05 for IC20-treated Caco2 cells) were downregulated in this study. Hexacyclen induced apoptosis in Hek293 and Caco2 cells via an RNS-mediated mechanism. Intrinsic apoptosis was noted in Hek293 cells, while both pathways facilitated apoptosis in Caco2 cells. Interestingly, apoptosis proceeded concurrently with a reduction in the NF-κB cell survival pathway.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.