Author(s): Luchetti F, Betti M, Canonico B, Arcangeletti M, Ferri P, , Luchetti F, Betti M, Canonico B, Arcangeletti M, Ferri P, , Luchetti F, Betti M, Canonico B, Arcangeletti M, Ferri P, , Luchetti F, Betti M, Canonico B, Arcangeletti M, Ferri P,
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Abstract The pineal gland hormone melatonin has been recently described to downregulate the intrinsic (or damage-induced) pathway of apoptosis in human leukocytes. These properties appear to depend on a specific mitochondrial signaling of melatonin which is associated with a lower generation of reactive oxygen species and a better control of redox-sensitive components such as the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2. Other elements upstream in this signaling are expected to contribute regulatory roles that remain unexplored. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which controls the balance between survival and death-promoting genes throughout the MAPK pathway, is involved in the antiapoptotic signaling of melatonin. Human monocytic U937 cells irradiated with UVB light were used as a model of stress-induced apoptosis. In this model we found that pharmacological concentrations of melatonin (1 mM) were able to decrease superoxide anion production, mitochondrial damage, and caspase-dependent apoptosis by improved Bcl-2 levels and decreased Cyt c release in the cytoplasm. Moreover, melatonin increased the phosphorylative activation of ERK 1/2 independently from the presence of UVB stress, and decreased the UVB-mediated activation of the stress kinases p38 MAPK and JNK. The ERK 1/2 inhibitor PD98059, but not the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580, abolished to different extents the effects that melatonin had on the UVB-induced ROS generation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and apoptosis. Using these inhibitors, a cross-talk effect between stress and survival-promoting kinases was tentatively identified, and confirmed the hierarchical role of ERK MAPK phosphorylation in the signaling of melatonin. In conclusion, melatonin sustains the activation of the survival-promoting pathway ERK MAPK which is required to antagonize UVB-induced apoptosis of U937 cells. This kinase mediates also the antioxidant and mitochondrial protection effects of this hormonal substance that may find therapeutic applications in inflammatory and immune diseases associated with leukocyte oxidative stress and accelerated apoptosis.
This article was published in Free Radic Biol Med
and referenced in Journal of Integrative Oncology