Mitochondria play an essential role in cellular energy metabolism and apoptosis. Previous studies have demonstrated that decreased mitochondrial biogenesis is associated with cancer progression. In mitochondrial biogenesis, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 alpha (PGC-1α) regulates the activities of multiple nuclear receptors and transcription factors involved in mitochondrial proliferation. Previously, we showed that overexpression of PGC-1α leads to mitochondrial proliferation and induces apoptosis in human malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) cells in vitro. We also demonstrated that transcutaneous application of carbon dioxide (CO(2)) to rat skeletal muscle induces PGC-1α expression and causes an increase in mitochondrial proliferation. In this study, we utilized a murine model of human MFH to determine the effect of transcutaneous CO(2) exposure on PGC-1α expression, mitochondrial proliferation and cellular apoptosis. PGC-1α expression was evaluated by quantitative real-time PCR, while mitochondrial proliferation was assessed by immunofluorescence staining and the relative copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was assessed by real-time PCR. Immunofluorescence staining and DNA fragmentation assays were used to examine mitochondrial apoptosis. We also evaluated the expression of mitochondrial apoptosis related proteins, such as caspases, cytochorome c and Bax, by immunoblot analysis. We show that transcutaneous application of CO(2) induces PGC-1α expression, and increases mitochondrial proliferation and apoptosis of tumor cells, significantly reducing tumor volume. Proteins involved in the mitochondrial apoptotic cascade, including caspase 3 and caspase 9, were elevated in CO(2) treated tumors compared to control. We also observed an enrichment of cytochrome c in the cytoplasmic fraction and Bax protein in the mitochondrial fraction of CO(2) treated tumors, highlighting the involvement of mitochondria in apoptosis. These data indicate that transcutaneous application of CO(2) may represent a novel therapeutic tool in the treatment of human MFH.
Conflict of interest statement
Competing Interests: This study was supported by NeoChemir Inc. through the employment of Takeshi Ueha who conceived, designed and performed the experiments, and analyzed the data for this study. The hydro-gel used in this study was a gift from NeoChemir Inc. and is patented by Neochemir Inc. (publication number WO2004/002393; publication date January 8, 2004). There are no other patents, products in development or other marketed products to declare. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the guide for authors.