2013 Volume 38 Issue 3 Pages 337-347
Since the largely abused worldwide used of marijuana, there have been many ongoing debates regarding the adverse health effects of marijuana smoking. Marijuana smoking was recently proved to cause pulmonary toxicity by inducing genotoxic effects or generating reactive oxygen species. Because p53, a tumor suppressor gene, has an important pathophysiologic role in the regulation of lung epithelial cell DNA damage responses, we hypothesized that p53 may be involved in the oxidative stress-mediated apoptosis induced by marijuana smoking. First, we confirmed that marijuana smoke condensate (MSC) induces oxidative stress in BEAS-2B cells. We observed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation was increased by MSC in the DCFH-DA assay. Also, antioxidant enzyme (superoxide dismutase, catalase) activity and their mRNA expressions were up-regulated by MSC. Second, we investigated p53 involvement in the MSC-induced apoptotic pathway in BEAS-2B cells. The results showed that MSC increased caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation as markers of apoptosis. In addition, the mRNA levels of apoptosis-related genes (p53 and Bax) were increased by MSC and phospho-p53, along with the increase of Bax protein expression by MSC. Apoptosis and apoptosis-related gene expression were partially blocked by an inhibitor of p53-dependent transcriptional activation (pifithrin-α). The results indicate that p53 plays a role in MSC-induced apoptosis. Taken together, the findings of the present study suggest that MSC partially induces p53-mediated apoptosis through ROS generation in human lung epithelial cells and this may have broader implications for our understanding of pulmonary diseases.