The bystander effect (BE) is an important biological phenomenon that induces damages in distant and not directly affected by a chemical/physical stress cells. This effect, well known in ionizing radiation treatment, relies on reactive signals released by exposed cells and transmitted via cell-cell interaction or culture medium. In this study, cycloheximide (CHX)-induced apoptotic U937 cells and untreated THP-1 cells were chosen to investigate the chemical-induced BE. The effects of apoptotic U937 cells culture medium, Conditioned Medium (CM), on THP-1 cells were evaluated by morphological and immunohistochemical analysis performed by light microscopy; 1D 1H and 2D J-resolved (JRES) NMR metabolomic analysis has been used to characterize the molecules involved in the BE. In summary, this study indicates that: CM of CHX-treated U937 cells induces a time-dependent induction of toxicity, probably apoptotic cell death, and macrophagic differentiation in THP-1 cells; CM contains different metabolites respect fresh culture medium; CM recruits in vivo activated fibroblasts, endothelial cells, macrophages and mononuclear inflammatory cells in rat calf muscles. These data suggest that CHX exposed cells could cause BE through the release, during the apoptotic process, of soluble factors into the medium that could be exploited in anticancer protocols.
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