Induction of apoptosis in fetal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells by a combined superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic

Stephen Wedgwood, Stephen M. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as superoxide and hydrogen peroxide are known to play an important role in the proliferation and viability of vascular smooth muscle cells. In this study, we determined the effects of increased superoxide dismutase and catalase activity on fetal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (FPASMC) proliferation and viability using EUK-134, a superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic. Treatment of FPASMC with EUK-134 or with a combination of superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes decreased superoxide and hydrogen peroxide levels as detected by the fluorescent dyes dihydroethidium and dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate, respectively. EUK-134 (5 μM) attenuated serum-induced FPASMC proliferation, whereas 50 μM EUK-134 decreased the number of viable cells, suggesting cell death. Conversely, combined superoxide dismutase and catalase enzyme activity equivalent to 50 μM EUK-134 prevented proliferation but did not reduce the number of viable FPASMC. The loss of mitochondrial membrane potential after 18 h, an increase in caspase-9 and caspase-3 activity after 24 h, and the subsequent appearance of TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling-positive nuclei were detected in FPASMC after treatment with 50 μM EUK-134. This indicates an induction of programmed rather than necrotic cell death and suggests that prolonged removal of ROS 134 required to stimulate apoptosis. Compounds such as EUK-134 may, therefore, prove more effective than enzymic antioxidants over longer periods, especially when the aim is to decrease the number of smooth muscle cells in diseases resulting from excessive muscularization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L305-L312
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2 29-2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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