BACKGROUND: Carcinogenicity of nickel compounds has been well documented. However, the carcinogenic effect of metallic nickel is still unclear. The present study investigates metallic nickel nano- and fine particle-induced apoptosis and the signal pathways involved in this process in JB6 cells. The data obtained from this study will be of benefit for elucidating the pathological and carcinogenic potential of metallic nickel particles.

RESULTS: Using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, we found that metallic nickel nanoparticles exhibited higher cytotoxicity than fine particles. Both metallic nickel nano- and fine particles induced JB6 cell apoptosis. Metallic nickel nanoparticles produced higher apoptotic induction than fine particles. Western-blot analysis showed an activation of proapoptotic factors including Fas (CD95), Fas-associated protein with death domain (FADD), caspase-8, death receptor 3 (DR3) and BID in apoptotic cells induced by metallic nickel particles. Immunoprecipitation (IP) western blot analysis demonstrated the formation of the Fas-related death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) in the apoptotic process. Furthermore, lamin A and beta-actin were cleaved. Moreover, we found that apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) was up-regulated and released from mitochondria to cytoplasm. Interestingly, although an up-regulation of cytochrome c was detected in the mitochondria of metallic nickel particle-treated cells, no cytochrome c release from mitochondria to cytoplasm was found. In addition, activation of antiapoptotic factors including phospho-Akt (protein kinase B) and Bcl-2 was detected. Further studies demonstrated that metallic nickel particles caused no significant changes in the mitochondrial membrane permeability after 24 h treatment.

CONCLUSION: In this study, metallic nickel nanoparticles caused higher cytotoxicity and apoptotic induction than fine particles in JB6 cells. Apoptotic cell death induced by metallic nickel particles in JB6 cells is through a caspase-8/AIF mediated cytochrome c-independent pathway. Lamin A and beta-actin are involved in the process of apoptosis. Activation of Akt and Bcl-2 may play an important role in preventing cytochrome c release from mitochondria to the cytoplasm and may also be important in the carcinogenicity of metallic nickel particles. In addition, the results may be useful as an important reference when comparing the toxicities of different nickel compounds.

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Published in Journal of Nanobiotechnology, v. 7, 2.

© 2009 Zhao et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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