Avermectin confers its cytotoxic effects by inducing DNA damage and mitochondria-associated apoptosis

Yang Zhang, Mingming Luo, Wenping Xu, Mingjun Yang, Bo Wang, Jufang Gao, Yaxiao Li, Liming Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (SciVal)


Avermectin (AVM) has been widely used in agriculture and animal husbandry on the basis of its broad spectrum of effective anthelmintic activity and specificity targets. However, AVM induction of cytotoxicity through DNA damage is remains elusive. Here we investigate the cytotoxic effects of AVM in human nontarget cells in vitro. We clarify that AVM inhibited the viability of HeLa cells and enhanced apoptosis. We have used alkaline comet assay and γH2AX foci formation to detect DNA damage of HeLa cells. As expected, we found AVM caused DNA double-strand breaks in HeLa cells, as measured by significance of comet assay parameters (e.g., tail DNA) and increases of ÎH2AX foci in HeLa cells. Moreover, established assays of cytotoxicity were performed to characterize the mechanism of AVM toxicity on HeLa cells. The results demonstrated the collapse of mitochondrial membrane potential, and up-regulating the expression level of Bax/Bcl-2 resulted in a release of cytochrome c into cytosol as well as the activation of caspase-9/-3 and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). We conclude that AVM has a potential risk to human health by inducing human cell DNA damage and mitochondria-associated apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6895-6902
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2016


  • apoptosis
  • avermectin
  • cytotoxic effects
  • DNA damage
  • mitochondrial pathway


Dive into the research topics of 'Avermectin confers its cytotoxic effects by inducing DNA damage and mitochondria-associated apoptosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this