Journal of endocrinological investigation

Cadmium-induced apoptosis and necrosis in human osteoblasts: role of caspases and mitogen-activated protein kinases pathways.

PMID 21697648


Cadmium is a widespread environmental pollutant which induces severe toxic alterations, including osteomalacia and osteoporosis, likely by estrogen receptor-dependent mechanisms. Indeed, cadmium has been described to act as an endocrine disruptor and its toxicity is exerted both in vivo and in vitro through induction of apoptosis and/or necrosis by not fully clarified intracellular mechanism(s) of action. Aim of the present study was to further investigate the molecular mechanism by which cadmium might alter homeostasis of estrogen target cells, such as osteoblast homeostasis, inducing cell apoptosis and/or necrosis. Human osteoblastic cells (hFOB 1.19) in culture were used as an in vitro model to characterize the intracellular mechanisms induced by this heavy metal. Cells were incubated in the presence/ absence of 10-50 μM cadmium chloride at different times and DNA fragmentation and activation of procaspases- 8 and -3 were induced upon CdCl(2) treatment triggering apoptotic and necrotic pathways. Addition of caspase-8 and -3 inhibitors (Z-IETD-FMK and Z-DQMD-FMK) partially blocked these effects. No activation of procaspase-9 was observed. To determine the role of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) in these events, we investigated c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK1/2) phosphorylation which were activated by 10 μM CdCl(2). Chemical inhibitors of JNK, p38, and ERK1/2, SP600125, SB202190, and PD98059, significantly reduced the phosphorylation of the kinases and blunted apoptosis. In contrast, caspase inhibitors did not reduce the cadmium-induced MAPK phosphorylation, suggesting an independent activation of these pathways. In conclusion, at least 2 pathways appear activated by cadmium in osteoblasts: a direct induction of caspase-8 followed by activation of caspase-3 and an indirect induction by phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38, and JNK MAPK triggering activation of caspase-8 and -3.

Related Materials

Product #



Molecular Formula

Add to Cart

SCP0140 Caspase 3 Enzyme Substrate (Apopain), chromogenic, ≥95% (HPLC)