Sulfonylureas (SUs) are suggested to accelerate the pancreatic β-cells mass loss via apoptosis. However, little is known whether calpains mediate this process. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the involvement of calpains in SUs-induced death of human pancreatic cancer (PC) cell line 1.2B4. The cells were exposed to: glibenclamide, glimepiride and gliclazide for 72 h. The expression analysis of caspase-3 (CASP-3), TP53, calpain 1 (CAPN-1), calpain 2 (CAPN-2) and calpain 10 (CAPN-10) was detected using RT-PCR method. Intracellular Ca concentrations, CASP-3 activity and total calpain activity were also evaluated. Our results have shown that glibenclamide and glimepiride decrease 1.2B4 cells viability with accompanied increase in intracellular Ca concentration and increased expression of apoptosis-related CASP-3 and TP53. Gliclazide did not affect 1.2B4 cell viability and Ca concentration, however, it downregulated CASP-3 and upregulated TP53. Interestingly, 50 μM glimepiride increased expression of CAPN-1, CAPN-2 and CAPN-10 whereas 50 μM glibenclamide solely upregulated CAPN-2 expression. We have shown that 10 μM and 50 μM glibenclamide and glimepiride increased the activity of CASP-3, but decreased total calpain activity. Our results suggest that calpains may be involved in glibenclamide- and glimepiride-induced death of PC cells. However, further investigation is required to confirm the engagement of calpains in SUs-mediated death of PC cells, especially studies on protein level of particular isoforms of calpains should be conducted.
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