The human antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin LL-37 has, besides its antimicrobial properties, also been shown to regulate apoptosis in a cell type-specific manner. Mechanisms involved in LL-37-regulated apoptotic signaling are not identified. Here, we show that LL-37 reduces the human osteoblast-like MG63 cell number and cell viability in the micromolar concentration range with an IC50 value of about 5 µM. Treatment with 4 µM LL-37 increased the number of annexin V-positive cells and stimulated activation of caspase 3 showing that LL-37 promotes apoptosis. Treatment with 4 µM LL-37 caused an acute and sustained rise in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration assessed by laser-scanning confocal microscopy of Fluo-4-AM-loaded MG63 cells. LL-37 increased Ca(2+) also in the presence of the respective L- and T-type voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) channel blockers nifedipine and NiCl2. LL-37 had no effect on Ca(2+) in cells incubated with Ca(2+)-free solution. LL-37 (4 and 8 µM) reduced the MG63 cell number both in the presence and absence of Ca(2+) in the medium. In conclusion, LL-37 reduces the osteoblast cell number by promoting apoptosis, and furthermore, LL-37 stimulates Ca(2+) inflow via a mechanism independent of voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) channels. Interestingly, LL-37-induced lowering of the cell number seems to be mediated via a mechanism independent of Ca(2+).
Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.