Phosphoramide mustard, an active metabolite of the anticancer drug cyclo‐phosphamide, causes malformations in rat embryos undergoing organogenesis in vitro. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the hypothesis that apoptosis plays an important role in mediating the teratogenicity of phosphoramide mustard. Apoptosis is a process of active or programmed cell death which is characterized by internucleosomal DNA fragmentation and de novo RNA and protein synthesis. Sulphated glycoprotein‐2 (SGP‐2) or clusterin is induced in some models of apoptosis and is one of the proteins likely to be involved in the maintenance of cell integrity. In the present study, day 10 rat embryos were cultured for 6, 12, 24, and 45 hr, with or without the addition of 10 μM phosphoramide mustard. After culture for 24 or 45 hr with exposure to 10μM phosphoramide mustard, the embryos were both growth‐retarded and malformed. Exposure to phosphoramide mustard for 6 or 12 hr did not significantly alter the relative amounts of either the mRNA or protein for SGP‐2; this treatment also had no effect on DNA fragmentation in embryos or their yolk sacs. After 24 hr in culture, the relative amounts of SGP‐2 protein, but not mRNA, were increased 2‐fold in the yolk sacs of the phosphoramide mustard‐exposed embryos, but not in the embryos themselves. At this time, DNA fragmentation was detected in phosphoramide mustard‐exposed embryos, but not in their yolk sacs or in control embryos. After 45 hr in culture, SGP‐2 protein and mRNA levels were increased 2–4‐fold above the controls in the phosphoramide mustard‐exposed embryos and their yolk sacs. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that in control embryos cultured for 45 hr, the SGP‐2 reaction product was localized in the heart, hindgut, and yolk sac. In contrast, in phosphoramide mustard‐treated embryos cultured for 45 hr, SGP‐2 immunostaining was found throughout the embryo, with a strong immunoreaction in the mesenchyme and ectoplacental cone. DNA fragmentation in the embryos exposed to phosphoramide mustard for 45 hr was more extensive than that found after 24 hr, but fragmentation was still not detected in the yolk sac. Thus exposure in vitro to a teratogenic concentration of phosphoramide mustard resulted in DNA fragmentation and an increased expression of SGP‐2 in the embryo. These data suggest that apoptosis is involved in mediating the teratogenicity of phosphormide mustard. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis