Lipid peroxidation and the subsequent cell death transmitting from ferroptotic cells to neighboring cells

Hironari Nishizawa, Mitsuyo Matsumoto, Guan Chen, Yusho Ishii, Keisuke Tada, Masafumi Onodera, Hiroki Kato, Akihiko Muto, Kozo Tanaka, Kazuhiko Igarashi

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Ferroptosis regulated cell death due to the iron-dependent accumulation of lipid peroxide. Ferroptosis is known to constitute the pathology of ischemic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and steatohepatitis and also works as a suppressing mechanism against cancer. However, how ferroptotic cells affect surrounding cells remains elusive. We herein report the transfer phenomenon of lipid peroxidation and cell death from ferroptotic cells to nearby cells that are not exposed to ferroptotic inducers (FINs). While primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and NIH3T3 cells contained senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal)-positive cells, they were decreased upon induction of ferroptosis with FINs. The SA-β-gal decrease was inhibited by ferroptotic inhibitors and knockdown of Atg7, pointing to the involvement of lipid peroxidation and activated autophagosome formation during ferroptosis. A transfer of cell culture medium of cells treated with FINs, type 1 or 2, caused the reduction in SA-β-gal-positive cells in recipient cells that had not been exposed to FINs. Real-time imaging of Kusabira Orange-marked reporter MEFs cocultured with ferroptotic cells showed the generation of lipid peroxide and deaths of the reporter cells. These results indicate that lipid peroxidation and its aftereffects propagate from ferroptotic cells to surrounding cells, even when the surrounding cells are not exposed to FINs. Ferroptotic cells are not merely dying cells but also work as signal transmitters inducing a chain of further ferroptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number332
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr


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