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TNF-α Mediates Eosinophil Cationic Protein-induced Apoptosis in BEAS-2B Cells

Kun-Che Chang1, Chih-Wei Lo1, Tan-chi Fan2, Margaret Dah-Tsyr Chang2, Chih-Wen Shu1, Chuan-Hsin Chang1, Cheng-Ta Chung1, Shun-lung Fang2, Chih-Chung Chao1, Jaw-Ji Tsai3 and Yiu-Kay Lai14*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Biotechnology & Department of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, 30013 Taiwan

2 Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology & Department of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, 30013 Taiwan

3 Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Taichung Veterans' General Hospital, Taichung, 40705 Taiwan

4 Department of Bioresources, Da-Yeh University, Changhua, 51591 Taiwan

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-6

Published: 20 January 2010



Eosinophilic granulocytes are important for the human immune system. Many cationic proteins with cytotoxic activities, such as eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN), are released from activated eosinophils. ECP, with low RNase activity, is widely used as a biomarker for asthma. ECP inhibits cell viability and induces apoptosis to cells. However, the specific pathway underlying the mechanisms of ECP-induced cytotoxicity remains unclear. This study investigated ECP-induced apoptosis in bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells and elucidated the specific pathway during apoptosis.


To address the mechanisms involved in ECP-induced apoptosis in human BEAS-2B cells, investigation was carried out using chromatin condensation, cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), sub-G1 distribution in cell cycle, annexin V labeling, and general or specific caspase inhibitors. Caspase-8-dependent apoptosis was demonstrated by cleavage of caspase-8 after recombinant ECP treatment, accompanied with elevated level of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). Moreover, ECP-induced apoptosis was effectively inhibited in the presence of neutralizing anti-TNF-α antibody.


In conclusion, our results have demonstrated that ECP increased TNF-α production in BEAS-2B cells and triggered apoptosis by caspase-8 activation through mitochondria-independent pathway.