Role of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation in a 'two-hit' model of hypoxia and oxidative stress in human A549 epithelial cells in vitro

Katalin Erdélyi, Pál Pacher, László Virág, Csaba Szabo

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7 Scopus citations


A preceding hypoxic insult can sensitize the cells or the organism to a subsequent, second insult. The aim of the present study was to investigate the molecular mechanism of this phenomenon (often termed 'two-hit' injury paradigm), in an in vitro model of hypoxia/oxidative stress injury in A549 epithelial cells, with special emphasis on the role of the nuclear enzyme poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) in the process. Pre-exposure of the cells to 24 h hypoxia significantly reduced intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels, reduced mitochondrial activity and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. However pre-exposure to hypoxia failed to induce any change in PARP-1 expression and activation, DNA single-strand breaks or plasma membrane integrity. Pre-exposure to hypoxia markedly increased the sensitivity of the cells to subsequent oxidative stress-induced DNA damage. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O 2) induced a concentration-dependent increase in DNA breakage, PARP activation, depletion of intracellular ATP, inhibition of mitochondrial activity and two distinct parameters that quantify the breakdown of plasma membrane integrity (propidium iodide uptake or lactate dehydrogenase release). PARP-1 activation played a significant role in the H2O2-induced cell death response because PARP activation, depletion of intracellular ATP, inhibition of mitochondrial activity, and the breakdown of plasma membrane integrity were attenuated in cells with permanently silenced PARP-1. Based on measurement of the endogenous antioxidant GSH, we hypothesized that the mechanism of hypoxia-mediated enhancement of H2O2 involves depletion of the GSH during the hypoxic period, which renders the cells more sensitive to a subsequent DNA single-strand break elicited by H 2O2. DNA strand breakage then activates PARP-1, leading to the inhibition of mitochondrial function, depletion of ATP and cell necrosis. PARP-1 deficiency protects against the cytotoxicity, to a lesser degree, by protecting against GSH depletion during the hypoxic period, and, to a larger degree, by maintaining mitochondrial function and preserving intracellular ATP levels during the subsequent oxidative stress period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-346
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2013



  • DNA damage
  • Epithelial cell
  • Glutathione
  • Hypoxia
  • Lung
  • Oxidative stress
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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