Regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis, and transcription factor activities during the promotion of liver carcinogenesis by polychlorinated biphenyls

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2002 Mar 15;179(3):172-84. doi: 10.1006/taap.2001.9360.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental pollutants that are complete carcinogens and tumor promoters in the liver. The mechanisms of their promoting activities are not clear, but one possible mechanism is the induction of oxidative stress. In the present study we evaluated the ability of two PCB congeners to activate the oxidative stress-responsive transcription factors nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1), as well as hepatocyte cell proliferation and apoptosis, which are influenced by activation of these transcription factors, in rat liver. Two transcription factors not activated by oxidative stress, signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 and 5 (STAT3 and STAT5), were also examined. All the animals in this study received a single dose of diethylnitrosamine (150 mg/kg) followed by four biweekly injections of 3,3',4,4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB-77) or 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (PCB-153) (100 or 300 micromol/kg), or both PCBs (100 micromol/kg each). Ten days after the last PCB injection, all animals were euthanized; 3 days before euthanasia all animals were implanted with Alzet osmotic pumps containing 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU). The number of placental glutathione S-transferase (PGST)-positive foci were increased in rats administered PCBs, with the highest increase seen in rats administered PCB-77. The number of foci in rats administered both PCBs was intermediate between the numbers seen with either PCB-77 or PCB-153, indicating that a synergistic effect did not occur. There was a significant increase in NF-kappaB and AP-1 binding activities in hepatic nuclear extracts from rats receiving the high dose of PCB-77 or PCB-153 and in rats receiving both PCBs. In contrast, the DNA binding activities of STAT3 and STAT5 were decreased in rats administered PCBs. Cell proliferation in both focal and nonfocal hepatocytes was increased by PCB-77 but was not affected by PCB-153. Apoptotic indexes, as quantified by the TUNEL method, were increased in both focal and nonfocal hepatocytes by PCB-77 but were decreased in focal hepatocytes by PCB-153. This study shows that both PCBs alone or in combination can increase the DNA binding activities of NF-kappaB and AP-1, whereas the DNA binding activities of STAT3 and STAT5 are decreased. The induction of altered hepatic foci appears to be related to compensatory cell proliferation in PCB-77-treated rats, whereas the inhibition of apoptosis appears to be important in PCB-153-treated rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Diethylnitrosamine / administration & dosage
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Female
  • Immunoblotting
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Milk Proteins*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Trans-Activators / analysis
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Stat3 protein, rat
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Transcription Factors
  • Diethylnitrosamine
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • 3,4,3',4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl
  • 2,4,5,2',4',5'-hexachlorobiphenyl