Inhibition of the mitochondrial respiratory chain function abrogates quartz induced DNA damage in lung epithelial cells

H. Li, P. Haberzettl, C. Albrecht, D. Hohr, A.M. Knaapen, P.J.A. Borm, R.P. Schins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Respirable quartz dust has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The aim of our study was to investigate the mechanisms of DNA damage by DQ12 quartz in RLE-6TN rat lung epithelial type II cells (RLE). Transmission electron microscopy and flow-cytometry analysis showed a rapid particle uptake (30min to 4h) of quartz by the RLE cells, but particles were not found within the cell nuclei. This suggests that DNA strand breakage and induction of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine - as also observed in these cells during these treatment intervals - did not result from direct physical interactions between particles and DNA, or from short-lived particle surface-derived reactive oxygen species. DNA damage by quartz was significantly reduced in the presence of the mitochondrial inhibitors rotenone and antimycin-A. In the absence of quartz, these inhibitors did not affect DNA damage, but they reduced cellular oxygen consumption. No signs of apoptosis were observed by quartz. Flow-cytometry analysis indicated that the reduced DNA damage by rotenone was not due to a possible mitochondria-mediated reduction of particle uptake by the RLE cells. Further proof of concept for the role of mitochondria was shown by the failure of quartz to elicit DNA damage in mitochondria-depleted 143B (rho-0) osteosarcoma cells, at concentrations where it elicited DNA damage in the parental 143B cell line. In conclusion, our data show that respirable quartz particles can elicit oxidative DNA damage in vitro without entering the nuclei of type II cells, which are considered to be important target cells in quartz carcinogenesis. Furthermore, our observations indicate that such indirect DNA damage involves the mitochondrial electron transport chain function, by an as-yet-to-be elucidated mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-57
JournalMutation Research-Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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