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Dobutamine protects lymphocytes against staurosporin-induced apoptosis: investigation of the antioxidative action of the dobutamine molecule


Catecholamines have been shown to modulate various immunological functions. In previous experiments we demonstrated that dobutamine pretreatment protects T cells from staurosporin-induced apoptosis [1]. In the current study we planned to investigate whether antioxidative properties of the dobutamine molecule might be responsible for its protective effect.


Jurkat T-cell passages 1–12 were used.


Experiments with a caspase-activity assay confirmed previous results: pretreatment (4 hours) with dobutamine 0.1 mM and 0.5 mM decreased staurosporin-induced apoptosis in Jurkat T cells from 14.0% to 11.6% and 8.7%, respectively (P < 0.01). Other catecholamines such as epinephrine and norepinephrine had no protective effect. To investigate whether production of ROS could be measured, Jurkat T cells were loaded with CM-M, H2DCFDA. After washing steps, the cells were exposed to 0 μ, 1 μM, 10 μM and 100 μM H2O2 for 6 hours. The fluorescence signal (ex 480/em 520 nm) measured was 36.7 U, 37.7 U, 38.1 U and 54.3 U, respectively, demonstrating the relation between ROS and the fluorescence signal. Next, production of ROS due to staurosporin treatment (2 μM) was measured: ROS production increased minimally after exposure for 2 hours. Only after 6 hours of staurosporin treatment, the ROS signal increased from 36.7 U to 42.1 U (P < 0.05). Subsequently, the ROS-scavenging effect of dobutamine was investigated. CM-H2DCFDA-loaded cells were exposed to staurosporin (2 μM) for 2 hours, with or without dobutamine pretreatment (0.1 mM and 0.5 mM): the ROS-scavenging effect was very pronounced in the 0.1 mM group (decrease in fluorescence signal from 56.1 U to 22.5 U, P < 0.01), and increased further in the 0.5 mM group (17.8 U, P < 0.01). Control experiments with unstained cells showed that addition of dobutamine did not change the autofluorescence signal.


These experiments demonstrate that dobutamine acts as a ROS scavenger. Whether this scavenging effect is responsible for the protective properties of dobutamine against staurosporin-induced apoptosis is currently under investigation.


  1. Jans F, et al.: Crit Care. 2007,11(Suppl 2):31. 10.1186/cc5191

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Van Melkebeek, J., Vandeput, S., Roesslein, M. et al. Dobutamine protects lymphocytes against staurosporin-induced apoptosis: investigation of the antioxidative action of the dobutamine molecule. Crit Care 12 (Suppl 2), P263 (2008).

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