Resolving the Role of Lipoxygenases in the Initiation and Execution of Ferroptosis
Lipoxygenases (LOXs) have been implicated as central players in ferroptosis, a recently characterized cell death modality associated with the accumulation of lipid hydroperoxides: the products of LOX catalysis. To provide insight on their role, human embryonic kidney cells were transfected to overexpress each of the human isoforms associated with disease, 5-LOX, p12-LOX, and 15-LOX-1, which yielded stable cell lines that were demonstrably sensitized to ferroptosis. Interestingly, the cells could be rescued by less than half of a diverse collection of known LOX inhibitors. Furthermore, the cytoprotective compounds were similarly potent in each of the cell lines even though some were clearly isoform-selective LOX inhibitors. The cytoprotective compounds were subsequently demonstrated to be effective radical-trapping antioxidants, which protect lipids from autoxidation, the autocatalytic radical chain reaction that produces lipid hydroperoxides. From these data (and others reported herein), a picture emerges wherein LOX activity may contribute to the cellular pool of lipid hydroperoxides that initiate ferroptosis, but lipid autoxidation drives the cell death process.