To investigate the possibility of the involvement of an oxidative stress induction in the mechanism of the cytotoxic effect of quinolone antibiotics, we examined the viability of human fibroblast cells exposed to ciprofloxacin (CPFX), and measured the levels of lipid peroxidation (LP), glutathione (GSH), and the activities of the antioxidant enzymes catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX). The data showed that the effect of CPFX on the viability of cells, as determined by neutral red uptake assay, was time-dependent, and the dose-response relation was biphasic. Cytotoxicity was not observed in the concentration range 5-150 mg/l CPFX when the cells were incubated for 24 h. In contrast, lower concentrations (5 and 12.5 mg/l) of CPFX increased the cell growth in all incubation periods tested. Marked decreases in the viability of fibroblasts were observed at concentrations 50 and 75 mg/l, and >/=50 mg/l, following 48 and 72 h exposure, respectively (p < 0.05). However, when the cells were exposed to > 75 mg/l CPFX for 48 h, no cytotoxicity was observed. By exposing fibroblast cultures to 75 mg/l CPFX for 48 h, an induction of LP enhancement and a marked decrease in intracellular GSH were observed. Vitamin E pretreatment of the cells lowered the level of LP, increased the total GSH content, and provided significant protection against CPFX-induced cytotoxicity. The biphasic effect of CPFX possibly resulted from the complex dose-dependent relationships between reactive oxygen species (ROS), cell proliferation, and cell viability. It was previously reported, in fact, for several cell models that ROS exert a biphasic effect on cell growth. Furthermore, cultured fibroblasts release their own free radicals, and the inhibition of endogenous ROS inhibits the fibroblast cell proliferation, whereas the effect of exogenous ROS is biphasic.
Keywords: biphasic response; ciprofloxacin; cytotoxicity; fibroblast cell cultures; hormesis; reactive oxygen species.