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Title: Mitochondrial dysfunction is the focus of quaternary ammonium surfactant toxicity to mammalian epithelial cells
Authors: Inácio, Ângela S. 
Costa, Gabriel N. 
Domingues, Neuza S. 
Santos, Maria S. 
Moreno, António J. M. 
Vaz, Winchil L. C. 
Vieira, Otília V. 
Issue Date: Jun-2013
Volume: 57
Issue: 6
Abstract: Surfactants have long been known to have microbicidal action and have been extensively used as antiseptics and disinfectants for a variety of general hygiene and clinical purposes. Among surfactants, quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) are known to be the most useful antiseptics and disinfectants. However, our previous toxicological studies showed that QAC are also the most toxic surfactants for mammalian cells. An understanding of the mechanisms that underlie QAC toxicity is a crucial first step in their rational use and in the design and development of more effective and safer molecules. We show that QAC-induced toxicity is mediated primarily through mitochondrial dysfunction in mammalian columnar epithelial cell cultures in vitro. Toxic effects begin at sublethal concentrations and are characterized by mitochondrial fragmentation accompanied by decreased cellular energy charge. At very low concentrations, several QAC act on mitochondrial bioenergetics through a common mechanism of action, primarily by inhibiting mitochondrial respiration initiated at complex I and, to a lesser extent, by slowing down coupled ADP phosphorylation. The result is a reduction of cellular energy charge which, when reduced below 50% of its original value, induces apoptosis. The lethal effects are shown to be primarily a result of this process. At higher doses (closer to the critical micellar concentration), QAC induce the complete breakdown of cellular energy charge and necrotic cell death.
ISSN: 1098-6596
DOI: 10.1128/AAC.02437-12
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FCTUC Química - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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