Induction of apoptosis in human lymphocytes by the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)
Hum Immunol. 2001 Jan;62(1):64-74.
Kaioumova D1, Süsal C, Opelz G.
Dimethylammonium salt of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (DMA-2,4-D) is a widely used herbicide that is considered moderately toxic. In the present study we found that DMA-2,4-D is able to cause apoptosis in peripheral blood lymphocytes of healthy individuals and Jurkat T cells. Apoptosis induced by DMA-2,4-D was dose and time dependent, independent of Fas, TNF receptor 1 or the aromatic hydrocarbon receptor, and involved disruption of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and activation of caspase-9. ZVAD-FMK, a broad-spectrum inhibitor of caspases, blocked DMA-2,4-D-induced apoptosis completely. While an inhibitor of caspase-9, as well as caspase-9 and caspase-3 inhibitors in combination, strongly blocked DMA-2,4-D-induced apoptosis, an inhibitor of caspase-3 had a moderate inhibitory effect. Unlike Fas-mediated apoptosis, the initiator caspase, caspase-8, was not involved in DMA-2,4-D-induced apoptosis. Transfection of Jurkat cells with Bcl-2 prevented DMA-2,4-D-induced disruption of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and led to a complete blockage of apoptosis. Our data indicate that DMA-2,4-D kills human lymphocytes by initiating apoptosis via a direct effect on mitochondria. The activation of caspases occurs downstream of mitochondrial damage, and the dysfunction of mitochondria appears to be sufficient for triggering all downstream events leading to apoptosis.