Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed neuroactive drugs, coming mostly from everyday beverages such as coffee and tea. To investigate whether caffeine induces apoptosis in the central nervous system, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5- diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, flow cytometric analysis, DNA fragmentation assay, and caspase-3 enzyme assay were performed on SK-N-MC human neuroblastoma cells. Cells treated with caffeine at concentrations as high as 10 mM exhibited several characteristics of apoptosis. In addition, caffeine was shown to increase the caspase-3 activity. These results suggest that high-dose of caffeine induces apoptosis in human neuroblastoma cells, probably by increasing the caspase-3 enzyme activity.
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