DNA damage and apoptosis induction by the pesticide Mancozeb in rat cells: Involvement of the oxidative mechanism.

Gabriella Calviello, Elisabetta Piccioni, Alma Boninsegna Lucarelli, Beatrice Tedesco, Simona Serini, Federica Wolf Minotti, Paola Palozza

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The DNA damaging and proapoptotic effects of Mancozeb, a widely used fungicide of the ethylene-bis-dithiocarbamate (EBDC) group, were studied in RAT-1 fibroblasts cultured in vitro and in peripheral blood mononucleated cells (PBMC) isolated from Wistar rats. After 1 h exposition to Mancozeb (up to 500 ng/ml), cells produced a dose-dependent induction in DNA single strand break (SSB) formation, measured by single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE). Concomitantly, a concentration-dependent increase in the levels of the oxidative markers of DNA oxidation, the DNA adduct 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) and of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were observed, suggesting a prooxidant action of Mancozeb. PBMC were less responsive than fibroblasts to the oxidative insult carried out by Mancozeb, as shown by the lower increase in the levels of ROS, 8-OHdG adducts and SSB measured in these cells after exposure to the pesticide. A 4-h treatment with Mancozeb induced also apoptosis in both PBMC and RAT-1 cells, even though leukocytes were less sensitive than fibroblasts to the proapoptotic action. This effect was dose-dependent and was inhibited by the action of the antioxidant alpha-tocopherol. The proapoptotic effect was accompanied by the altered expression of several proteins involved in the regulation of apoptosis, such as the prosurvival protein BCL-2 and the proapoptotic protein c-MYC. Exposition of cells to higher concentrations of Mancozeb or for longer periods (>4 h) caused post-apoptotic, necrotic alterations in cell membrane integrity. The data herein presented demonstrate the oxidative effect of Mancozeb and suggest that its prooxidant action may be involved in the proapoptotic effect exerted by this compound in rat cells. It appears possible that the observed oxidative and genotoxic damage may be involved in the pathogenesis of various pathologies associated with the chronic exposition to Mancozeb, including cancer. On the other hand, the proapoptotic effect of Mancozeb suggests its possible relevance in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, often related to the exposition of pesticides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • DNA damage
  • Mancozeb
  • apoptosis


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