Vitamin E reversal of the effect of extracellular calcium on chemically induced toxicity in hepatocytes

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Science  15 Feb 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4688, pp. 751-754
DOI: 10.1126/science.3918345


Isolated rat hepatocytes were incubated in the presence or absence of extracellular calcium and alpha-tocopherol succinate with three different toxic chemicals; namely, adriamycin in combination with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea, ethyl methanesulfonate, and the calcium ionophore A23187. In the absence of extracellular calcium these three compounds were far more toxic to the cells than in its presence. The addition of vitamin E to calcium-free medium, however, protected hepatocytes against toxic injury, whereas cells incubated in medium containing calcium were not protected. Hepatocyte viability during each toxic insult correlated well with the cellular alpha-tocopherol content but not with the presence or absence of extracellular calcium. These results suggest that cellular alpha-tocopherol maintains the viability of the cell during a toxic insult and that the presence or absence of vitamin E in the incubation medium probably explains the conflicting reports on the role of extracellular calcium in toxic cell death.