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      Cytotoxic activity of Androctonus australis hector venom and its toxic fractions on human lung cancer cell line

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          Several studies have showed that animal venoms are a source of bioactive compounds that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, which makes them useful agents for therapeutic applications. Recently, it was established that venom toxins from scorpions induced cytotoxic, antiproliferative and apoptogenic effects on cancer cells. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate the cytotoxic activity of Androctonus australis hector (Aah) scorpion venom and its toxic fractions (FtoxG-50 and F3) on NCI-H358 human lung cancer cells.


          The cytotoxic and antiproliferative activities were estimated using MTT assay, lactate dehydrogenase release and clonogenic assays. Apoptosis was evaluated by Hoechst 33258 staining, DNA fragmentation assay and caspase-3 activity. Oxidative stress was analyzed by reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide, malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels along with assessment of antioxidant status. In addition, alteration of mitochondrial membrane potential was analyzed by JC1 fluorescent dye.


          The present findings showed that F3 fraction was more cytotoxic towards NCI-H358 lung cancer cells with an IC 50 of 27.05 ± 0.70 μg/mL than venom alone (396.60 ± 1.33 μg/mL) and its toxic fraction FtoxG-50 (45.86 ± 0.91 μg/mL). Nevertheless, F3 fraction was not cytotoxic at these concentrations on normal human lung fibroblast MRC-5 cells. Inhibition of NCI-H358 cell proliferation after F3 fraction exposure occurred mainly by apoptosis as evidenced by damaged nuclei, significant DNA fragmentation level and caspase-3 activation in a dose dependent manner. Moreover, F3 fraction enhanced oxidative and nitrosative stress biomarkers and dissipated mitochondrial membrane potential in lung cancer cells along with significant depletion in cellular enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Further, the apoptosis induced by F3 fraction was markedly prevented by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) suggesting the potential mechanism of oxidative stress.


          These findings suggest that F3 fraction could induce apoptosis in lung cancer cells through involvement of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Hence, these properties make F3 fraction a promising candidate for development of new anticancer agents.

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          Most cited references 110

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          Determination of carbonyl content in oxidatively modified proteins.

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            Quantifying cellular oxidative stress by dichlorofluorescein assay using microplate reader.

            Oxidative stress (OS) has been implicated in various degenerative diseases in aging. In an attempt to quantify OS in a cell model, we examined OS induced by incubating for 30 min with various free radical generators in PC12 cells by using the dichlorofluorescein (DCF) assay, modified for use by a fluorescent microplate reader. The nonfluorescent fluorescin derivatives (dichlorofluorescin, DCFH), after being oxidized by various oxidants, will become DCF and emit fluorescence. By quantifying the fluorescence, we were able to quantify the OS. Our results indicated that the fluorescence varied linearly with increasing concentrations (between 0.1 and 1 mM) of H2O2 and 2,2'-azobios(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride (AAPH; a peroxyl radical generator). By contrast, the fluorescence varied as a nonlinear response to increasing concentrations of 3-morpholinosydnonimine hydrochloride (SIN-1; a peroxynitrite generator), sodium nitroprusside (SNP; a nitric oxide generator), and dopamine. Dopamine had a biphasic effect; it decreased the DCF fluorescence, thus acting as an antioxidant, at concentrations <500 microM in cells, but acted as a pro-oxidant by increasing the fluorescence at 1 mM. While SNP was not a strong pro-oxidant, SIN-1 was the most potent pro-oxidant among those tested, inducing a 70 times increase of fluorescence at a concentration of 100 microM compared with control. Collectively, due to its indiscriminate nature to various free radicals, DCF can be very useful in quantifying overall OS in cells, especially when used in conjunction with a fluorescent microplate reader. This method is reliable and efficient for evaluating the potency of pro-oxidants and can be used to evaluate the efficacy of antioxidants against OS in cells.
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              Release of reactive nitrogen intermediates and reactive oxygen intermediates from mouse peritoneal macrophages. Comparison of activating cytokines and evidence for independent production.

              The capacity of 12 cytokines to induce NO2- or H2O2 release from murine peritoneal macrophages was tested by using resident macrophages, or macrophages elicited with periodate, casein, or thioglycollate broth. Elevated H2O2 release in response to PMA was observed in resident macrophages after a 48-h incubation with IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, TNF-beta, or CSF-GM. Of these, only IFN-gamma induced substantial NO2- secretion during the culture period. The cytokines inactive in both assays under the conditions tested were IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IFN-alpha, IFN-beta, CSF-M, and transforming growth factor-beta 1. Incubation of macrophages with IFN-gamma for 48 h in the presence of LPS inhibited H2O2 production but augmented NO2- release, whereas incubation in the presence of the arginine analog NG-monomethylarginine inhibited NO2- release but not H2O2 production. Although neither TNF-alpha nor TNF-beta induced NO2- synthesis on its own, addition of either cytokine together with IFN-gamma increased macrophage NO2- production up to six-fold over that in macrophages treated with IFN-gamma alone. Moreover, IFN-alpha or IFN-beta in combination with LPS could also induce NO2- production in macrophages, as was previously reported for IFN-gamma plus LPS. These data suggest that: 1) tested as a sole agent, IFN-gamma was the only one of the 12 cytokines capable of inducing both NO2- and H2O2 release; 2) the pathways leading to secretion of H2O2 and NO2- are independent; 3) either IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha/beta or IFN-alpha/beta/gamma and LPS can interact synergistically to induce NO2- release.

                Author and article information

                +213 661516276 , ,
                J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis
                J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis
                The Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases
                BioMed Central (London )
                22 October 2016
                22 October 2016
                : 22
                USTHB, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Laboratory of cellular and Molecular Biology, BP32, El Alia, Bab Ezzouar, 16111 Algiers, Algeria
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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