Mitochondrial adaptations to oxidative stress confer resistance to apoptosis in lymphoma cells

Sarah T. Wilkinson, Margaret E. Tome, Margaret M. Briehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Acquired resistance to drugs commonly used for lymphoma treatment poses a significant barrier to improving lymphoma patient survival. Previous work with a lymphoma tissue culture model indicates that selection for resistance to oxidative stress confers resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. This suggests that adaptation to chronic oxidative stress can contribute to chemoresistance seen in lymphoma patients. Oxidative stress-resistant WEHI7.2 cell variants in a lymphoma tissue culture model exhibit a range of apoptosis sensitivities. We exploited this phenotype to test for mitochondrial changes affecting sensitivity to apoptosis in cells made resistant to oxidative stress. We identified impaired release of cytochrome c, and the intermembrane proteins adenylate kinase 2 and Smac/DIABLO, indicating inhibition of the pathway leading to permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane. Blunting of a glucocorticoid-induced signal and intrinsic mitochondrial resistance to cytochrome c release contributed to both points of resistance. The level of Bcl-2 family members or a difference in Bim induction were not contributing factors. The extent of cardiolipin oxidation following dexamethasone treatment, however, did correlate with apoptosis resistance. The differences found in the variants were all proportionate to the degree of resistance to glucocorticoid treatment. We conclude that tolerance to oxidative stress leads to mitochondrial changes that confer resistance to apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10212-10228
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Cancer
  • Cardiolipin
  • Catalase
  • Cytochrome c
  • Mitochondria
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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