Cardiolipin plays a role in KCN-induced necrosis

Natalia Tsesin, Boris Khalfin, Ilana Nathan, Abraham H. Parola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Cardiolipin (CL) is a unique anionic, dimeric phospholipid found almost exclusively in the inner mitochondrial membrane and is essential for the function of numerous enzymes that are involved in mitochondrial energy metabolism. While the role of cardiolipin in apoptosis is well established, its involvement in necrosis is enigmatic. In the present study, KCN-induced necrosis in U937 cells was used as an experimental model to assess the role of CL in necrosis. KCN addition to U937 cells induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, while the antioxidants inhibited necrosis, indicating that ROS play a role in KCN-induced cell death. Further, CL oxidation was confirmed by the monomer green fluorescence of 10-N-nonyl acridine orange (NAO) and by TLC. Utilizing the red fluorescence of the dimeric NAO, redistribution of CL in mitochondrial membrane during necrosis was revealed. We also showed that the catalytic activity of purified adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase complex, known to be modulated by cardiolipin, decreased following KCN treatment. All these events occurred at an early phase of the necrotic process prior to rupture of the cell membrane. Furthermore, CL-deficient HeLa cells were found to be resistant to KCN-induced necrosis as compared with the wild type cells. We suggest that KCN, an effective reversible inhibitor of cytochrome oxidase and thereby of the respiratory chain leads to ROS increase, which in turn oxidizes CL (amongst other membrane phospholipids) and leads to mitochondrial membrane lipid reorganization and loss of CL symmetry. Finally, the resistance of CL-deficient cells to necrosis further supports the notion that CL, which undergoes oxidation during necrotic cell death, is an integral part of the milieu of events taking place in mitochondria leading to membrane disorganization and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry and Physics of Lipids
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cardiolipin
  • Necrosis
  • Oxidation
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cardiolipin plays a role in KCN-induced necrosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this