Tea-induced Apoptosis in Human Leukemia K562 Cells as Assessed by Comet Formation


Programmed cell death or apoptosis is a physiological process by which genetically damaged cells or undesired ‍cells can be eliminated. Various morphological and molecular changes undergoing during the process of apoptosis ‍are the formation of apoptotic blebs of the cell membrane, cell shrinkage, condensation of chromatin and the disruption ‍of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) into typical fragments of multiples of 180 base pairs. These changes can be detected ‍in a number of ways. DNA ladder formation, which is observed following gel electrophoresis technique although is ‍widely accepted but does not reflect the DNA breakdown in individual cell and also may miss contributions from ‍small sub-populations in a heterogeneous cell population. Alkaline comet assay as measured by single cell gel ‍electrophoresis, on the other hand, accurately measures DNA fragmentation on a single cell level and allows analysis ‍of subpopulation of cells. The assay was originally developed for measuring DNA damage of cells exposed to any ‍genotoxic agent. However, the comet image generated by an apoptotic cell is different from that obtained with a cell ‍treated for a short time with a genotoxic agent. Correlation of comet formation with various other established ‍parameters of apoptosis is very important. The present study aims to correlate different features of apoptosis with ‍the formation of comet tail in human leukemia K-562 cells using tea extracts. Apoptosis as measured by formation of ‍apoptotic bodies, flow cytometric analysis, activation of caspase 3 and 8, and expressions of apoptosis related genes ‍such as bcl-2 and bax showed high degree of correlation with comet tail moment. This indicates that comet assay can ‍accurately reflect measure of DNA fragmentation and hence can be used to detect a cell undergoing apoptosis.