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Beinke, Christina; Scherthan, Harry; Port, Matthias; Popp, Tanja; Hermann, Cornelius and Eder, Stefan (2020): Triterpenoid CDDO-Me induces ROS generation and up-regulates cellular levels of antioxidative enzymes without induction of DSBs in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In: Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, Vol. 59, No. 3: pp. 461-472

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Ionizing radiation produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to cellular DNA damage. Therefore, patients undergoing radiation therapy or first responders in radiological accident scenarios could both benefit from the identification of specifically acting pharmacological radiomitigators. The synthetic triterpenoid bardoxolone-methyl (CDDO-Me) has previously been shown to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities in several cell lines, in part by enhancing the DNA damage response. In our study, we examined the effect of nanomolar concentrations of CDDO-Me in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). We observed increased cellular levels of the antioxidative enzymes heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (quinone1) and mitochondrial superoxide dismutase 2 by immunoblotting. Surprisingly, we found increased intracellular ROS-levels using imaging flow-cytometry. However, the radiation-induced DNA double-strand break (DSB) formation using the gamma-H2AX + 53BP1 DSB focus assay and the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay both revealed, that nanomolar CDDO-Me pre-treatment of PBMC for 2 h or 6 h ahead of X irradiation with 2 Gy did neither significantly affect gamma-H2AX + 53BP1 DSB foci formation nor the frequency of micronuclei. CDDO-Me treatment also failed to alter the nuclear division index and the frequency of IR-induced PBMC apoptosis as investigated by Annexin V-labeled live-cell imaging. Our results indicate that pharmacologically increased cellular concentrations of antioxidative enzymes might not necessarily exert radiomitigating short-term effects in IR-exposed PBMC. However, the increase of antioxidative enzymes could also be a result of a defensive cellular mechanism towards elevated ROS levels.

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