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      Cytotoxicity of Phenanthrenes Extracted from Aristolochia contorta in Human Proximal Tubular Epithelial Cell Line

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          Background/Aims:Aristolochic acid nephropathy, a progressive tubulointerstitial renal disease, is predominantly a result of aristolochic acid I (AA-I) intoxication. However, other unidentified phytotoxins have indeed been postulated as the cause of this unique interstitial nephropathy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the cytotoxicity of other phenanthrene derivatives extracted from Aristolochia contorta in the human proximal tubular epithelial cell line HK-2. Methods: After HK-2 cells were incubated with an indicated concentration of test compounds for 24 h, cell viability was assessed by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage assay (cell membrane damage) in combination with MTT assay (metabolic capability). Cellular morphologic assessments were performed with a phase-contrast inverted microscope and transmission electron microscope. Results: In all test compounds at 5 µg/ml, AA-I, 7-methoxy-aristololactam IV and aristololactam IVa showed cytotoxic activity in HK-2 cells in both MTT assay and LDH leakage assay (p < 0.01). At high concentration (5–80 µg/ml), these three compounds caused a dose-dependent decrease in MTT reduction and a dose-dependent increase in LDH leakage compared to non-treated cells (p <0.01). In LDH leakage assay, 40 µg/ml 7-methoxy-aristololactam IV induced a 1.58-fold LDH leakage compared to AA-I at the same concentration (p < 0.01). Moreover, the IC<sub>50</sub>of these three compounds were 16.675 µg/ml for AA-I, 4.535 µg/ml for 7-methoxy-aristololactam IV, and 30.244 µg/ml for aristololactam IVa in MTT assay. The cellular morphologic assessments suggest interactions with cell membrane and intracellular structures such as lysosome and mitochondria are likely to be involved in cell injury induced by these three compounds. Conclusion: The potency of cytotoxic activity of aristololactam IVa and 7-methoxy-aristololactam IV extracted from A. contorta is similar to or even stronger than that of AA-I.

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          Urothelial carcinoma associated with the use of a Chinese herb (Aristolochia fangchi)

          Chinese-herb nephropathy is a progressive form of renal fibrosis that develops in some patients who take weight-reducing pills containing Chinese herbs. Because of a manufacturing error, one of the herbs in these pills (Stephania tetrandra) was inadvertently replaced by Aristolochia fangchi, which is nephrotoxic and carcinogenic. The diagnosis of a neoplastic lesion in the native urinary tract of a renal-transplant recipient who had Chinese-herb nephropathy prompted us to propose regular cystoscopic examinations and the prophylactic removal of the native kidneys and ureters in all our patients with end-stage Chinese-herb nephropathy who were being treated with either transplantation or dialysis. Surgical specimens were examined histologically and analyzed for the presence of DNA adducts formed by aristolochic acid. All prescriptions written for Chinese-herb weight-reducing compounds during the period of exposure (1990 to 1992) in these patients were obtained, and the cumulative doses were calculated. Among 39 patients who agreed to undergo prophylactic surgery, there were 18 cases of urothelial carcinoma (prevalence, 46 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, 29 to 62 percent): 17 cases of carcinoma of the ureter, renal pelvis, or both and 1 papillary bladder tumor. Nineteen of the remaining patients had mild-to-moderate urothelial dysplasia, and two had normal urothelium. All tissue samples analyzed contained aristolochic acid-related DNA adducts. The cumulative dose of aristolochia was a significant risk factor for urothelial carcinoma, with total doses of more than 200 g associated with a higher risk of urothelial carcinoma. The prevalence of urothelial carcinoma among patients with end-stage Chinese-herb nephropathy (caused by aristolochia species) is a high.
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            Aristolochic acid as a probable human cancer hazard in herbal remedies: a review.

            The old herbal drug aristolochic acid (AA), derived from Aristolochia spp., has been associated with the development of a novel nephropathy, designated aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN), and urothelial cancer in AAN patients. There is clear evidence that the major components of the plant extract AA, aristolochic acid I (AAI) and aristolochic acid II (AAII), both nitrophenanthrene carboxylic acids, are genotoxic mutagens forming DNA adducts after metabolic activation through simple reduction of the nitro group. Several mammalian enzymes have been shown to be capable of activating both AAI and AAII in vitro and in cells. The activating metabolism has been elucidated and is consistent with the formation of a cyclic nitrenium ion with delocalized charge leading to the preferential formation of purine adducts bound to the exocyclic amino groups of deoxyadenosine and deoxyguanosine. The predominant DNA adduct in vivo, 7-(deoxyadenosin-N(6)-yl)aristolactam I (dA-AAI), which is the most persistent of the adducts in target tissue, is a mutagenic lesion leading to AT-->TA transversions in vitro. This transversion mutation is found at high frequency in codon 61 of the H-ras oncogene in tumours of rodents induced by AAI, suggesting that dA-AAI might be the critical lesion in the carcinogenic process in rodents. DNA-binding studies confirmed that both AAs bind to the adenines of codon 61 in the H-ras mouse gene and preferentially to purines in the human p53 gene. In contrast, the molecular mechanism of renal interstitial fibrosis in humans after chronic administration of AA remains to be explored. However, preliminary findings suggest that DNA damage by AA is not only responsible for the tumour development but also for the destructive fibrotic process in the kidney. It is concluded that there is significant evidence that AA is a powerful nephrotoxic and carcinogenic substance with an extremely short latency period, not only in animals but also in humans. In particular, the highly similar metabolic pathway of activation and resultant DNA adducts of AA allows the extrapolation of carcinogenesis data from laboratory animals to the human situation. Therefore, all products containing botanicals known to or suspected of containing AA should be banned from the market world wide.
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              HK-2: An immortalized proximal tubule epithelial cell line from normal adult human kidney


                Author and article information

                Nephron Exp Nephrol
                Cardiorenal Medicine
                S. Karger AG
                June 2006
                22 March 2006
                : 103
                : 3
                : e95-e102
                aRenal Division, First Hospital, Peking University, and bDepartment of Natural Medicines, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
                92194 Nephron Exp Nephrol 2006;103:e95–e102
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 7, Tables: 1, References: 46, Pages: 1
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