BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Although carboplatin is currently used as a therapeutic drug for ovarian, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers, it has serious side effects including renal and cardiac toxicity. Herein, we examined the effect of carboplatin on murine renal tubular cell (RTC) apoptosis both in vivo and in vitro and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with its activation of the nuclear factor of activated T-lymphocytes-3 (NFAT3). EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Mechanisms of carboplatin-mediated renal apoptosis were examined using NFAT-reporter transgenic mice and RTCs with NFAT3 overexpression or knockdown. KEY RESULTS We demonstrated that carboplatin initiated an intrinsic apoptotic pathway of activating caspase-3 and -9, accompanied by a decrease in the ratio of Bcl-XL/Bax and a significant increase in Bcl-XS. Carboplatin increased NFAT activation in NFAT-luciferase reporter transgenic mice, RTCs and cells exogenously overexpressing NFAT3 that exacerbated cell death. Furthermore, the addition of either N-acetylcysteine (NAC, an antioxidant) or NFAT inhibitors, including FK-506 (tacrolimus), cyclosporin A (CsA, a calcineurin inhibitor), and BAPTA-AM (a calcium chelator) successfully reversed carboplatin-mediated cell apoptosis, which was further confirmed using siNFAT3. Additionally, NAC blocked NFAT3 activation by inhibition of NADPH oxidase activation, and ERK/JNK and PKC pathways, resulting in a decrease in cell apoptosis; the therapeutic effect of NAC was verified in vivo. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS The results presented herein show that carboplatin-mediated reactive oxygen species might signal calcineurin and NFAT3 activation in RTCs, whereas NAC and NFAT inhibitors reversed carboplatin-mediated RTC apoptosis, suggesting that oxidative stress-mediated NFAT3 activation is essential for carboplatin-mediated RTC apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1676
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Carboplatin
  • Nuclear factor of activated T-lymphocytes
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Renal tubular cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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