Exposure of cells to nonlethal concentrations of hydrogen peroxide induces degeneration-repair mechanisms involving lysosomal destabilization. Author: Brunk UT; Zhang H; Dalen H; Ollinger K Source: Free Radic Biol Med 1995 Dec; 19(6):813-22 Abstract: The cytotoxicity of hydrogen peroxide is, at least partly, mediated by the induction of intralysosomal iron-catalyzed oxidative reactions with damage to lysosomal membranes and leakage of destructive contents. We hypothesize that minor such leakage may be nonlethal, and the ensuing cellular degeneration repairable. Consequently, we investigated, using a model system of cultured J-774 cells, the effects of hydrogen peroxide in moderate concentrations on cellular viability, lysosomal membrane integrity, morphology, and ATP and reduced glutathione concentrations. These parameters were initially estimated directly after a 30 min exposure to a bolus dose of hydrogen peroxide in phosphate buffered saline at 37 degrees C, and then again following subsequent recovery periods of different lengths under ordinary culture conditions. All cells survived an exposure to 250 microM hydrogen peroxide for 30 min, whereas 350 and 500 microM exposure was lethal to a small fraction of cells. The oxidative stress caused early, time- and dose-dependent, partial relocalization of the lysosomotropic weak base acridine orange from the lysosomal compartment to the cytosol. This phenomenon is known to parallel leakage of damaging lysosomal contents such as hydrolytic enzymes. There were also signs of cellular damage in the form of surface blebbing and increased autophagocytosis, more marked with the higher doses of hydrogen peroxide. Also found was a rapid depletion of ATP and GSH. These alterations were all reversible, as long as cells were exposed to nonlethal amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Based on these and previous findings, we suggest that lysosomes are less stable organelles than has hitherto been assumed. Restricted lysosomal leakage might be a common event, for example, during sublethal oxidative stress, causing reversible, degenerative alterations, which are repaired by autophagocytosis.