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    β-lapachone (β-lap) is reduced in tumor cells by the enzyme NAD(P)H: quinone acceptor oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) to a labile hydroquinone which spontaneously reoxidises to β-lap, thereby generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress. To test for the consequences of an acute exposure of brain cells to β-lap, cultured primary rat astrocytes were incubated with β-lap for up to 4 h. The presence of β-lap in concentrations of up to 10 µM had no detectable adverse consequences, while higher concentrations of β-lap compromised the cell viability and the metabolism of astrocytes in a concentration- and time-dependent manner with half-maximal effects observed for around 15 µM β-lap after a 4 h incubation. Exposure of astrocytes to β-lap caused already within 5 min a severe increase in the cellular production of ROS as well as a rapid oxidation of glutathione (GSH) to glutathione disulfide (GSSG). The transient cellular accumulation of GSSG was followed by GSSG export. The β-lap-induced ROS production and GSSG accumulation were completely prevented in the presence of the NQO1 inhibitor dicoumarol. In addition, application of dicoumarol to β-lap-exposed astrocytes caused rapid regeneration of the normal high cellular GSH to GSSG ratio. These results demonstrate that application of β-lap to cultured astrocytes causes acute oxidative stress that depends on the activity of NQO1. The sequential application of β-lap and dicoumarol to rapidly induce and terminate oxidative stress, respectively, is a suitable experimental paradigm to study consequences of a defined period of acute oxidative stress in NQO1-expressing cells.


    Johann Steinmeier, Sophie Kube, Gabriele Karger, Eric Ehrke, Ralf Dringen. β-Lapachone Induces Acute Oxidative Stress in Rat Primary Astrocyte Cultures that is Terminated by the NQO1-Inhibitor Dicoumarol. Neurochemical research. 2020 Oct;45(10):2442-2455

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    PMID: 32789798

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