Lycopene, a well-known carotenoid pigment found in tomatoes, has shown various biological functions. In our previous report, we showed that lycopene induces two apoptotic hallmarks, plasma membrane depolarization and G2/M cell cycle arrest, in Candida albicans. In this study, we investigated the ability of lycopene to induce apoptosis, and the mechanism by which it regulates apoptosis. FITC-Annexin V staining, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) analysis, and 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) assay showed that lycopene exerted its antifungal activity during the early and late stages of apoptosis in C. albicans. During apoptosis, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) were increased, and specifically the hydroxyl radicals contributed to the fungal cell death. Furthermore, lycopene treatment caused intracellular Ca(2+) overload and mitochondrial dysfunction, such as mitochondrial depolarization and cytochrome c release from the mitochondria to the cytoplasm. At last caspase activation was triggered. In summary, lycopene exerted its antifungal effects against C. albicans by inducing apoptosis via ROS production and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Candida albicans; Lycopene; ROS production.
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