Cigarette smoke-induced cell death of a spermatocyte cell line can be prevented by inactivating the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor

P. Esakky, D. A. Hansen, A. M. Drury, A. Cusumano, K. H. Moley

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4 Scopus citations


Cigarette smoke exposure causes germ cell death during spermatogenesis. Our earlier studies demonstrated that cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) causes spermatocyte cell death in vivo and growth arrest of the mouse spermatocyte cell line (GC-2spd(ts)) in vitro via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). We hypothesize here that inactivation of AHR could prevent the CSC-induced cell death in spermatocytes. We demonstrate that CSC exposure generates oxidative stress, which differentially regulates mitochondrial apoptosis in GC-2spd(ts) and wild type (WT) and AHR knockout (AHR-KO) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). SiRNA-mediated silencing of Ahr augments the extent of CSC-mediated cellular damage while complementing the AHR-knockout condition. Pharmacological inhibition using the AHR-antagonist (CH223191) modulates the CSC-altered expression of apoptotic proteins and significantly abrogates DNA fragmentation though the cleavage of PARP appears AHR independent. Pretreatment with CH223191 at concentrations above 50 μM significantly prevents the CSC-induced activation of caspase-3/7 and externalization of phosphatidylserine in the plasma membrane. However, MAPK inhibitors alone or together with CH223191 could not prevent the membrane damage upon CSC addition and the caspase-3/7 activation and membrane damage in AHR-deficient MEF indicates the interplay of multiple cell signaling and cytoprotective ability of AHR. Thus the data obtained on one hand signifies the protective role of AHR in maintaining normal cellular homeostasis and the other, could be a potential prophylactic therapeutic target to promote cell survival and growth under cigarette smoke exposed environment by receptor antagonism via CH223191-like mechanism. Antagonist-mediated inactivation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor blocks downstream events leading to cigarette smoke-induced cell death of a spermatocyte cell line.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15050
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 21 2015

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