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Doxorubicin executes apoptosis, a process known to produce leakage of cytochrome c and opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pores. To define the loss of mitochondrial function by apoptosis, we monitored cellular respiration during continuous exposure to doxorubicin. A phosphorescence analyzer capable of stable measurements over at least 5 h was used to measure [O(2)]. In solutions containing glucose and cells, [O(2)] declined linearly with time, showing that the kinetics of oxygen consumption was zero order. Complete inhibition of oxygen consumption by cyanide indicated that oxidations occurred in the respiratory chain. A decline in the rate of respiration was evident in Jurkat and HL-60 cells exposed to doxorubicin. The decline was abrupt, occurring after about 2 h of incubation. The inhibition was concentration-dependent and was completely blocked by the pan-caspase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone. Respiration in resistant HL-60/MX2 cells, characterized by an altered topoisomerase II activity, was not inhibited by doxorubicin. A decline in cellular ATP was measured in Jurkat cells after 2-4 h of incubation with 20 microM doxorubicin, paralleling the decline in respiration rate. Thus, cells incubated with doxorubicin exhibit caspase-mediated inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation.

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Reprinted with permission from Tao, Z., Withers, H. G., Penefsky, H. S., Goodisman, J., & Souid, A. -. (2006). Inhibition of cellular respiration by doxorubicin. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 19(8), 1051-1058. Copyright 2005 American Chemical Society.


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