The mitochondrial permeability transition contributes to acute ethanol-induced apoptosis in rat hepatocytes

Hajime Higuchi, Masayuki Adachi, Soichiro Miura, Gregory J. Gores, Hiromasa Ishii

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119 Citations (Scopus)


Acute ethanol intoxication induces oxidative stress and apoptosis in primary cultured hepatocytes. Oxidative stress can trigger mitochondrial cytochrome c release initiating the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Based on this information, we formulated the hypothesis that ethanol-induced oxidative stress causes mitochondrial dysfunction resulting in apoptosis. In the present study, we found that the mitochondrial membrane permeability transition (MPT) is essential for induction of mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspase activation of ethanol. The short-term incubation with ethanol (50 mmol/L) induced the MPT, cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and apoptosis of cultured rat hepatocytes. Hepatocyte apoptosis was prevented by caspase inhibitors (i.e., Z-VAD-fmk, DEVD-cho, and DMQD-cho). An MPT inhibitor, cyclosporin A, also prevented ethanol-induced cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and apoptosis, suggesting that acute ethanol-induced apoptosis is MPT dependent. Ethanol-induced MPT was also attenuated by N′N′-dimethylthiourea (DMTU, a scavenger of hydrogen peroxide, 10 mmol/L) and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC, an antioxidant, 5 mmol/L). Preventing hepatocyte MPT by DMTU or NAC attenuated cytochrome c release as well as caspase activation, suggesting that ethanol-induced oxidative stress mediates the MPT. Thus, acute ethanol induces MPT via oxidative stress, and the MPT mediates mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis in hepatocytes exposed to acute ethanol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-328
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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