Sensitivity of HaCat keratinocytes to diabetogenic toxins

Avikam Harel*, Olga Bloch, Pnina Vardi, Konstantin Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metabolic, genetic and environmental factors very likely play an important role in the development of skin lesions in diabetes mellitus. While these lesions are involved in secondary diabetes complications, various diabetogenic genotoxic agents may induce direct skin damage. In the present study we examined the potential of known diabetogenic agents (streptozotocin (STZ) and alloxan (AL)), with different mechanisms of action, for induction of direct injury in an immortal human keratinocyte HaCat cell line. In contrast to STZ, which induces alkylation of DNA, a genotoxic effect of AL is achieved through reactive oxygen species. We found that HaCat cells are highly sensitive to STZ, but not to AL. At a concentration of 10mM STZ, cell viability decreased to 32 ± 13% of control (P < 0.05), as compared to 82 ± 14% with 10mM of AL. Cells treated with 10 and 20mM STZ showed a significant increase in apoptosis (3.9- and 6.7-fold), but not in necrosis, compared to naive cells (P < 0.05). In contrast to STZ, no increase in apoptotic and necrotic cell death was observed after AL treatment. Pretreatment with non-metabolizable 3-O-methyl glucose (3-OMG), which can blockade glucose transporter, or with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (nicotinamide or 3-aminobenzamide), did not protect keratinocytes from STZ injury. Our results show that STZ, but not AL, is highly toxic to the HaCat cell line. Unlike insulin-producing cells, STZ-induced injury of immortal human keratinocyte HaCat cells is independent of the glucose transporters as well as of the activation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2002


  • Alloxan
  • Apoptosis
  • Cytotoxicity
  • HaCat keratinocytes
  • Necrosis
  • Streptozotocin


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