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N-acetylcysteine protects against microcystin-LR-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress and germ cell apoptosis in zebrafish testes

Zhao, Sujuan, Liu, Ying, Wang, Fang, Xu, Dexiang, Xie, Ping
Chemosphere 2018 v.204 pp. 463-473
Danio rerio, acetylcysteine, antioxidant activity, antioxidants, apoptosis, endoplasmic reticulum, endoplasmic reticulum stress, enzyme activity, germ cells, males, microcystin-LR, oxidative stress, proteins, staining, testes, unfolded protein response
Previous studies have shown that microcystin-LR (MCLR) is a reproductive toxicant that induces germ cell apoptosis in the testes, but the underlying mechanisms have not been well understood. In this study, we investigated that MCLR induces germ cell apoptosis is through activation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant could protect against germ cell apoptosis by inhibiting the ER stress. Healthy male zebrafish were intraperitoneally injected with NAC (500 nM), beginning at 2 h before different doses of MCLR (0, 50, 100, 200 μg/kg). As expected, acute MCLR exposure resulted in oxidative stress and germ cell apoptosis in zebrafish testes. Further analysis showed that NAC significantly alleviated MCLR-induced testicular germ cell apoptosis and inhibited the caspase-dependent apoptotic proteins. Meanwhile H&E staining showed that NAC could rescue testicular damage induced by MCLR. Moreover, MCLR induced activation of ER stress which consequently triggered apoptosis in zebrafish testes. Interestingly, NAC was effective in improving the total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) level and activity of antioxidant enzymes in NAC pretreated groups. NAC significantly attenuated MCLR-induced upregulation of GRP78 in testes. In addition, NAC significantly attenuated MCLR-triggered testicular eIF2s1 and MAPK8 activation, indicating that NAC counteracts MCLR-induced unfolded protein response (UPR) in testes. Taken together, the results observed in this study suggested that ER stress plays a critical role in germ cell apoptosis exposed to MCLR and NAC could protect against apoptosis via inhibiting ER stress in zebrafish testes.