A typical antioxidant, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) generally protects cells from oxidative damage induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS). 9,10-Phenanthrenequinone (9,10-PQ), a major quinone in diesel exhaust particles, produces ROS in redox cycling following two-electron reduction by NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), which has been considered as a cause of its cyto- and genotoxicity. In this study, we show that NAC unexpectedly augments the toxicity of 9,10-PQ in cells with low NQO1 activity. In four human skin cell lines, the expression and the activity of NQO1 were lower than in human adenocarcinoma cell lines, A549 and MCF7. In the skin cells, the cytotoxicity of 9,10-PQ was significantly enhanced by addition of NAC. The formation of DNA double strand breaks accompanying phosphorylation of histone H2AX, was also remarkably augmented. On the other hand, the cyto- and genotoxicity were suppressed by addition of NAC in the adenocarcinoma cells. Two contrasting experiments: overexpression of NQO1 in CHO-K1 cells which originally expressed low NQO1 levels, and knock-down of NQO1 in the adenocarcinoma cell line A549 by transfection of RNAi, also showed that NAC suppressed 9,10-PQ-induced toxicity in cell lines expressing high NQO1 activity and enhanced it in cell lines with low NQO1 activity. The results suggested that dual effects of NAC on the cyto- and genotoxicity of 9,10-PQ were dependent on tissue-specific NQO1 activity.
- double-strand breaks
- yeast saccharomyces-cerevisiae
- diesel exhaust particles
- nad(p)h-quinone oxidoreductase
- oxidative stress
- quinone oxidoreductases
- histone h2ax