Nonylphenol and octylphenol-induced apoptosis in human embryonic stem cells is related to Fas-Fas ligand pathway

Suel Kee Kim, Byung Kak Kim, Joong Hyun Shim, Jung Eun Gil, Yong Dal Yoon, Jong Hoon Kim

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Human embryonic stem (hES) cells have been proposed as a source of various cell types for cell replacement therapy. Besides their potential in therapeutic uses, ES cells also have other potential applications, such as in drug discovery and in vitro screening assays of various toxicants. Nonylphenol (NP) and octylphenol (OP) are common environmental contaminants, known to disrupt the reproductive and endocrine system. However, little is known about their toxicological effects on early embryonic development in humans. In this study, we used undifferentiated hES cells and the neural progenitor cells derived from them to investigate the potential toxicity of NP and OP. Our results show that the cytotoxic effects of NP and OP involve DNA fragmentation, the major characteristic of apoptosis. The NP- and OP-induced apoptosis was concomitant with the increased activity of Caspase-8 and -3. Moreover, both Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) protein expressions were markedly increased in the NP- or OP-exposed hES cells. These results suggest that NP and OP are able to trigger apoptosis in hES cells via a pathway dependent on caspase activation and Fas-FasL interaction. In particular, hES cell-derived neural progenitor cells had a higher sensitivity to the toxicants than undifferentiated hES cells, thereby suggesting that the toxic stress response may differ depending on the developmental stage. These findings offer new perspectives for understanding the fundamental mechanisms in chemical-induced apoptosis in hES cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-321
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (SC2050) from Stem Cell Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology to Dr J.H.K. and from Korean Research Foundation funded by Minister of Education and Human Resources Development (KRF-2003-C00051) to Dr Y.D.Y. All experimental procedures involving hES cells were approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Korean Stem Cell Research Center (IRB number, 24).


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase
  • Fas-Fas ligand pathway
  • Human embryonic stem cell
  • Nonylphenol
  • Octylphenol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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