Sea urchin embryos exposed to cadmium as an experimental model for studying the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis

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The sea urchin embryo is a suitable model that offers an excellent opportunity to investigate differentdefence strategies activated in stress conditions. We previously showed that cadmium accumulates in adose- and time-dependent manner into embryonic cells, activating different stress and defence mechanisms,including the synthesis of HSPs and the onset of apoptosis and/or autophagy. In this paper weinvestigated the functional relationship between autophagy and apoptosis, evaluating apoptosis signalsin cadmium-exposed Paracentrotus lividus embryos with inhibited autophagy. We found that the inhibitionof autophagy produced the concurrent reduction of apoptosis, suggesting that the two phenomenaare functionally related. Considering the catabolic role of autophagy, an energetic hypothesis to explainthe relationship was evaluated. Using a substrate for ATP production, we found that apoptosis, assessedby TUNEL and cleaved caspase-3 immunocytochemistry, was substantially restored in cadmium-treatedembryos where autophagy was inhibited by 3-Methyladenine. On the basis of these results, we proposethat, autophagy could play a crucial role in stress response of this organism because autophagy couldenergetically contribute to apoptotic execution through its catabolic role
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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