Thymocytes selected for resistance to hydrogen peroxide show altered antioxidant enzyme profiles and resistance to dexamethasone-induced apoptosis

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Treatment of WEH17.2 cells, a mouse thymoma-derived cell line, with dexamethasone, a synthetic glucocorticoid, causes the cells to undergo apoptosis. Previous work has shown that treatment of WEH17.2 cells with dexamethasone results in a downregulation of antioxidant defense enzymes, suggesting that increased oxidative stress may play a role in glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. To test whether resistance to oxidative stress causes resistance to dexamethasone-induced apoptosis, WEH17.2 cell variants selected for resistance to 50, 100 and 200 μM H2O2 were developed. Resistance to H2O2 is accompanied by increased antioxidant enzyme activity, resistance to other oxidants and a delayed loss of viable cells after dexamethasone treatment. In the 200 μM H2O2-resistant cell variant the delay in cell loss is correlated with delayed release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria into the cytosol. This suggests that reactive oxygen species play a role in a signaling event during steroid-mediated apoptosis in lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-961
Number of pages9
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2001



  • Apoptosis
  • Dexamethasone
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hydrogen peroxide resistance
  • Steroids
  • Thymocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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