Role of reactive oxygen species in arsenic-induced transformation of human lung bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells

Zhuo Zhang, Poyil Pratheeshkumar, Amit Budhraja, Young Ok Son, Donghern Kim, Xianglin Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Arsenic is an environmental carcinogen, its mechanisms of carcinogenesis remain to be investigated. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered to be important. A previous study (Carpenter et al., 2011) has measured ROS level in human lung bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells and arsenic-transformed BEAS-2B cells and found that ROS levels were higher in transformed cells than that in parent normal cells. Based on these observations, the authors concluded that cell transformation induced by arsenic is mediated by increased cellular levels of ROS. This conclusion is problematic because this study only measured the basal ROS levels in transformed and parent cells and did not investigate the role of ROS in the process of arsenic-induced cell transformation. The levels of ROS in arsenic-transformed cells represent the result and not the cause of cell transformation. Thus question concerning whether ROS are important in arsenic-induced cell transformation remains to be answered. In the present study, we used expressions of catalase (antioxidant against H2O2) and superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2, antioxidant against O2-) to decrease ROS level and investigated their role in the process of arsenic-induced cell transformation. Our results show that inhibition of ROS by antioxidant enzymes decreased arsenic-induced cell transformation, demonstrating that ROS are important in this process. We have also shown that in arsenic-transformed cells, ROS generation was lower and levels of antioxidants are higher than those in parent cells, in a disagreement with the previous report. The present study has also shown that the arsenic-transformed cells acquired apoptosis resistance. The inhibition of catalase to increase ROS level restored apoptosis capability of arsenic-transformed BEAS-2B cells, further showing that ROS levels are low in these cells. The apoptosis resistance due to the low ROS levels may increase cells proliferation, providing a favorable environment for tumorigenesis of arsenic-transformed cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-648
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 9 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study is supported by NIH/NIEHS 1R01ES020870 to Dr. Xianglin Shi.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Arsenic
  • Cell transformation
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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