<div><p>Purpose</p><p>To investigate the involvement of intrinsic mitochondrial apoptosis in dental monomer-induced cytotoxicity and the influences of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) on this process.</p><p>Methods</p><p>Human dental pulp cells (hDPCs) were exposed to several dental monomers in the absence or presence of NAC, and cell viability, intracellular redox balance, morphology and function of mitochondria and key indicators of intrinsic mitochondrial apoptosis were evaluated using various commercial kits.</p><p>Results</p><p>Dental monomers exerted dose-dependent cytotoxic effects on hDPCs. Concomitant to the over-production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and depletion of glutathione (GSH), differential changes in activities of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase were detected. Apoptosis, as indicated by positive Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) staining and activation of caspase-3, was observed after dental monomer treatment. Dental monomers impaired the morphology and function of mitochondria, and induced intrinsic mitochondrial apoptosis in hDPCs via up-regulation of p53, Bax and cleaved caspase-3, and down-regulation of Bcl-2. NAC restored cell viability, relieved oxidative stress and blocked the apoptotic effects of dental monomers.</p><p>Conclusions</p><p>Dental monomers induced oxidative stress and mitochondrial intrinsic apoptosis in hDPCs. NAC could reduce the oxidative stress and thus protect hDPCs against dental monomer-induced apoptosis.</p></div
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