Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Trichloroethylene, a common industrial solvent and a metabolic precursor of chloral hydrate, occurs widely in the environment. Chloral hydrate, which is also used as a hypnotic, has been found to condense spontaneously with tryptamine, in vivo, to give rise to a highly unpolar 1-trichloromethyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline (TaClo) that has a structural analogy to the dopaminergic neurotoxin N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Earlier studies have revealed the relative permeability of the molecule through the blood–brain barrier and its ability to induce Parkinson-like symptoms in rats. In this study, we report that TaClo induces an apoptotic pathway in the human neuroblastoma cell line, SK-N-SH, involving the translocation of mitochondrial cytochrome c to the cytosol and activation of caspase 3. TaClo-induced apoptosis shows considerable differences from that mediated by other Parkinson-inducing agents such as MPTP, rotenone and manganese. Although it is not clear if the clinically administered dosage of chloral hydrate or the relatively high environmental levels of trichloroethylene could lead to an onset of Parkinson's disease, the spontaneous in vivo formation of TaClo and its pro-apoptotic properties, as shown in this report, should be considered.
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