Exposure of plasmalogen-deficient variants of the murine cell line RAW 264.7 to short-term (0–100 min) treatment with electron transport inhibitors antimycin A or cyanide (chemical hypoxia) resulted in a more rapid loss of viability than in the parent strain. Results suggested that plasmalogen-deficient cells were more sensitive to reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during chemical hypoxia; the mutants could be rescued from chemical hypoxia by using the antioxidant Trolox, an α-tocopherol analogue, and they were more sensitive to ROS generation by plumbagin or by rose bengal treatment coupled with irradiation. In addition, the use of buffers containing 2H2O greatly enhanced the cytotoxic effect of chemical hypoxia, suggesting the involvement of singlet oxygen. We used the unique enzymic deficiencies displayed by the mutants to differentially restore either plasmenylethanolamine (the major plasmalogen species normally found in this cell line) or its biosynthetic precursor, plasmanylethanolamine. Restoration of plasmenylethanolamine, which contains the vinyl ether, resulted in wild-type-like resistance to chemical hypoxia and ROS generators, whereas increasing levels of its precursor, which bears the saturated ether, had no effect on cell survival. These findings identify the vinyl ether double bond as a crucial element in cellular protection under these conditions and support the hypothesis that plasmalogens, through the vinyl ether, act as antioxidants to protect cells against ROS. These phospholipids might protect cells from ROS-mediated damage during events such as chemical hypoxia.
- chemical hypoxia
- reactive oxygen species
- singlet oxygen
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1999