Analysis of dihydroethidium fluorescence for the detection of intracellular and extracellular superoxide produced by NADPH oxidase

Author(s): Peshavariya HM, Dusting GJ, Selemidis S


All methods used for quantitation of superoxide have limitations when it comes to differentiating between extracellular and intracellular sites of superoxide production. In the present study, we monitored dihydroethidium (DHE)-derived fluorescence at 570 nm, which indicates hydroxyethidium derived from reaction with superoxide produced by human leukemia cells (HL-60) and microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1). Phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 100 ng/ml) caused an increase in fluorescence and lucigenin chemiluminescence in HL-60, which was abolished by superoxide dismutase (SOD; 600 U/ml) indicating that DHE detects extracellular superoxide. Furthermore, both HL-60 cells and HMEC-1 generated a fluorescence signal in the presence of DHE under resting conditions, which was unaffected by SOD, but abolished by polyethylene glycosylated-SOD (PEG-SOD) (100 U/ml) and MnTmPyP (25 microM), indicating that DHE also detects superoxide produced intracellularly. In HMEC-1, silencing of either Nox2 or Nox4 components of NADPH oxidase with small interference RNA (siRNA) resulted in a significant reduction in superoxide detected by both DHE fluorescence (Nox2 siRNA; 71 +/- 6% and Nox4 siRNA 83 +/- 7% of control) and lucigenin chemiluminescence (Nox2; 54 +/- 6% and Nox4 74 +/- 4% of control). In conclusion, DHE-derived fluorescence at 570 nm is a convenient method for detection of intracellular and extracellular superoxide produced by phagocytic and vascular NADPH oxidase.

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