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Differently from the antiapoptotic action most commonly assigned to peroxisome proliferators (PPs), we demonstrated that some of them, clofibrate (CF) in particular, display clearcut apoptogenic properties on rat hepatoma cell lines. We and others could confirm that CF as well as various other PPs can induce apoptosis in a variety of cells, including human liver, breast and lung cancer cell lines. The present study was aimed at investigating the cytotoxic action of CF on a neoplastic line of different origin, the human T leukemia Jurkat cells. We observed that CF rapidly triggers an extensive and morphologically typical apoptotic process on Jurkat cells, though not in primary T cells, which is completely prevented by the polycaspase inhibitor zVADfmk. Gene silencing studies demonstrated that CF-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells is partially dependent on activation of caspase 2. Looking for a possible trigger of caspase 2 activation, we observed increased levels of phosphorylated eIF2α and JNK in CF-treated cells. Moreover, intracellular Ca(2+) homeostasis was perturbed. Together, these findings are suggestive for the occurrence of ER stress, an event that is known to have the potential to activate caspase 2. The present observations demonstrate that CF induces in Jurkat cells a very fast and extensive apoptosis, that involves induction of ER stress and activation of caspases 2 and 3. Since apoptosis in Jurkat cells occurs at pharmacologically relevant concentrations of CF, the present findings encourage further in depth analysis in order to work out the potential implications of CF cytotoxcity on leukemic cells.


Fabio Penna, Fabrizio Pin, Domiziana Costamagna, Patrizia Reffo, Francesco Maria Baccino, Gabriella Bonelli, Paola Costelli. Caspase 2 activation and ER stress drive rapid Jurkat cell apoptosis by clofibrate. PloS one. 2012;7(9):e45327

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PMID: 23028936

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