Doxorubicin-induced persistent oxidative stress to cardiac myocytes

Shaoyu Zhou, Carlos M. Palmeira, Kendall B Wallace

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194 Scopus citations


We recently reported a cardioselective and cumulative oxidation of cardiac mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) following subchronic administration of doxorubicin to rats. The mtDNA adducts persist for up to 5 weeks after cessation of doxorubicin treatment. Since the evidence suggests that this persistence of mtDNA adducts cannot be attributed to a lack of repair and replication, we investigated whether it might reflect a long-lasting stimulation of free radical-mediated adduct formation. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received weekly s.c. injections of either doxorubicin (2 mg/kg) or an equivalent volume of saline. Cardiac myocytes isolated from rats following 6 weekly injections of doxorubicin expressed a much higher rate of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation compared to saline controls. This higher rate of ROS formation persisted for 5 weeks following the last injection. Associated with this was a persistent depression of GSH in heart tissue, while protein-thiol content was not markedly altered. These data suggest that the accumulation and persistence of oxidized mtDNA may be due, not to the stability of the adducts, but to some as yet undefined toxic lesion that causes long-lasting stimulation of ROS generation by doxorubicin. This persistent generation of ROS may contribute to the cumulative and irreversible cardiotoxicity observed clinically with the drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-157
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 19 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant HL-58016. The authors thank Juline A. Smith for her help in isolating cardiac myocytes.


  • Cardiac myocytes
  • Doxorubicin
  • Glutathione
  • Protein-thiol
  • Reactive oxygen species


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