Ethanol synergizes with hydrogen peroxide, peroxyl radical, and trypsin to kill epithelial cells in culture

Isaac Ginsburg*, Ron Kohen, Moshe Ligumsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Monkey kidney epithelial cells, labeled with chromium and grown in culture,were killed in a synergistic manner when subtoxic amounts of ethanol were combined either with subtoxic amounts of glucose oxidase-generated hydrogen peroxide, or with mixtures of peroxide and with 2,2′-Azobis (2-amidinopropane)HCl (AAPH)-generated peroxyl radical. A further enhancement of cytotoxicity occurred when subtoxic amounts of trypsin were added to mixtures of all three agents. While ethanol alone caused shrinkage of the monolayers and cell rounding, no visible cytotoxic changes were observed. Hydrogen peroxide at the concentrations used (about 1 mM), caused only some cell rouding. On the other hand, cells exposed simultaneously to ethanol and to H2O2 developed extensive membrane damage characterized by the formation of large polar blebs, which is compatible with altered membrane permeability. The presence of trypsin markedly enhanced cellular cytotoxicity induced by mixtures of peroxide, peroxyl radical, and ethanol. This could markedly be depressed by catalase and by dimethylthiourea. The tissue culture model described might serve to further investigate the role played by synergy among oxidants and a variety of membrane-damaing agents, and by xenobiotics in tissue damage induced by inflammatory processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994


  • AAPH-generated peroxyl radical
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Epithelial cells
  • Ethanol
  • Free radicals
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Synergism
  • Trypsin


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