Effects of thimerosal on NGF signal transduction and cell death in neuroblastoma cells.
Toxicol Sci. 2005 Jul ;86(1):132-40. Epub 2005 Apr 20. PMID: 15843506
Damani K Parran
Signaling through neurotrophic receptors is necessary for differentiation and survival of the developing nervous system. The present study examined the effects of the organic mercury compound thimerosal on nerve growth factor signal transduction and cell death in a human neuroblastoma cell line (SH-SY5Y cells). Following exposure to 100 ng/ml NGF and increasing concentrations of thimerosal (1 nM-10 microM), we measured the activation of TrkA, MAPK, and PKC-delta. In controls, the activation of TrkA MAPK and PKC-delta peaked after 5 min of exposure to NGF and then decreased but was still detectable at 60 min. Concurrent exposure to increasing concentrations of thimerosal and NGF for 5 min resulted in a concentration-dependent decrease in TrkA and MAPK phosphorylation, which was evident at 50 nM for TrkA and 100 nM for MAPK. Cell viability was assessed by the LDH assay. Following 24-h exposure to increasing concentrations of thimerosal, the EC50 for cell death in the presence or absence of NGF was 596 nM and 38.7 nM, respectively. Following 48-h exposure to increasing concentrations of thimerosal, the EC50 for cell death in the presence and absence of NGF was 105 nM and 4.35 nM, respectively. This suggests that NGF provides protection against thimerosal cytotoxicity. To determine if apoptotic versus necrotic cell death was occurring, oligonucleosomal fragmented DNA was quantified by ELISA. Control levels of fragmented DNA were similar in both the presence and absence of NGF. With and without NGF, thimerosal caused elevated levels of fragmented DNA appearing at 0.01 microM (apoptosis) to decrease at concentrations>1 microM (necrosis). These data demonstrate that thimerosal could alter NGF-induced signaling in neurotrophin-treated cells at concentrations lower than those responsible for cell death.