Low Dose and Long Term Toxicity of Sodium Arsenite Caused Caspase Dependent Apoptosis Based on Morphology and Biochemical Character

Document Type : Research Article



Although arsenite is toxic it is currently recommended for the treatment of malignancies. In this study the effects of sub-micromolar concentrations of sodium arsenite on the viability, morphology and mechanism of cell death of rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMCs) over 21 days was investigated. Materials and Methods:In this experimental study, BMCs were extracted in Dulbecco’s Modified Eagles Medium (DMEM) containing 15% of fetal bovine serum (FBS) and expanded till the 3rd passage. The cells were treated with 1, 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 nM of sodium arsenite for 21 days and the viability of the cells estimated using 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5 diphenyl tetrazolium (MTT) and trypan blue staining. Cells were then treated with the selected dose (25 nM) of sodium arsenite to determine their colony forming ability (CFA) and population doubling number (PDN). Morphology of the cells was studied using florescent dyes, and the integrity of the DNA was investigated using the comet assay and agarose gel electrophoresis. The terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and the caspase 3 assay were then applied to understand the mechanism of cell death. Data was analyzed using one way ANOVA, Tukey test. Results:A significant reduction of viability, PDN and CFA was found following treatment of BMCs with 25 nM sodium arsenite (p < 0.05). Cytoplasm shrinkage and a significant decrease in the diameter of the nuclei were also seen. Comet assay and agarose gel electrophoresis revealed DNA breakage, while positive TUNEL and activated caspase 3 confirmed the apoptosis. Conclusion:A low concentration of sodium arsenite (25 nM) caused reduction of viability due to induction of apoptosis. Therefore, long term exposure to low dose of this chemical may have unwanted effects on BMCs