Rainaldi, G., Romano, R., Indovina, P., Ferrante, A., Motta, A., Indovina, P. L. and Santini, M. T. Metabolomics Using 1H-NMR of Apoptosis and Necrosis in HL60 Leukemia Cells: Differences between the Two Types of Cell Death and Independence from the Stimulus of Apoptosis Used. Radiat. Res. 169, 170–180 (2008).
High-resolution proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) spectroscopy was used to examine and compare the metabolic variations that occur in cells of the HL60 promyelocytic leukemia cell line after induction of apoptosis by ionizing radiation and the antineoplastic drug doxorubicin as well as after induction of necrosis by heating. Apoptosis and necrosis were confirmed by fluorescence microscopy using the chromatin stain Hoechst 33258, agarose gel electrophoresis of DNA, and determination of caspase 3 enzymatic activity. The 1H-NMR experiments revealed that the spectra of both samples containing apoptotic cells were characterized by the same trend of several important metabolites. Specifically, an increase in CH2 and CH3 mobile lipids, principally of CH2, decreases in glutamine and glutamate, choline-containing metabolites, taurine and reduced glutathione were observed. By contrast, the sample containing necrotic cells presented a completely different profile of 1H-NMR metabolites since it was characterized by a significant increase in all the metabolites examined, with the exception of CH2 mobile lipids, which remain unchanged, and reduced glutathione, which decreased. The results suggest that variations in 1H-NMR metabolites are specific to apoptosis independent of the physical or chemical nature of the stimulus used to induce this mode of cell death, while cells dying from necrosis are characterized by a completely different behavior of the same metabolites.