Apoptosis induced by para-phenylenediamine involves formation of ROS and activation of p38 and JNK in chang liver cells

Soi Moi Chye, Yee Lian Tiong, Wai Kien Yip, Rhun Yian Koh, Yi Won Len, Heng Fong Seow, Khuen Yen Ng, De Alwis Ranjit, Ssu Ching Chen

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para-phenylenediamine (p-PD) is a suspected carcinogen, but it has been widely used as a component in permanent hair dyes. In this study, the mechanism of p-PD-induced cell death in normal Chang liver cells was investigated. The results demonstrated that p-PD decreased cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. Cell death via apoptosis was confirmed by enhanced DNA damage and increased cell number in the sub-G1 phase of the cell cycle, using Hoechst 33258 dye staining and flow cytometry analysis. Apoptosis via reactive oxygen species generation was detected by the dichlorofluorescin diacetate staining method. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation was assessed by western blot analysis and revealed that p-PD activated not only stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK)/c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) and p38 MAPK but also extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). Cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by p-PD were markedly enhanced by ERK activation and selectively inhibited by ERK inhibitor PD98059, thus indicating a negative role of ERK. In contrast, inhibition of p38 MAPK activity with the p38-specific inhibitor SB203580 moderately inhibited cytotoxicity and apoptosis induction by p-PD. Similarly, SP600125, an inhibitor of SAPK/JNK, moderately inhibited cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by p-PD, thus implying that p38 MAPK and SAPK/JNK had a partial role in p-PD-induced apoptosis. Western blot analysis revealed that p-PD significantly increased phosphorylation of p38 and SAPK/JNK and decreased phosphorylation of ERK. In conclusion, the results demonstrated that SAPK/JNK and p38 cooperatively participate in apoptosis induced by p-PD and that a decreased ERK signal contributes to growth inhibition or apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-990
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Chang liver cells
  • MAP-kinases
  • para-phenylenediamine
  • Reactive oxygen species

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