Selective protection by stably transfected human ALDH3A1 (but not human ALDH1A1) against toxicity of aliphatic aldehydes in V79 cells

Alan J. Townsend, Sandra Leone-Kabler, Robin L. Haynes, Yinghui Wu, Luke Szweda, Kevin D. Bunting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Toxic medium chain length alkanals, alkenals, and 4-hydroxyalkenals that are generated during lipid peroxidation are potential substrates for aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) isoforms. We have developed transgenic cell lines to examine the potential for either human ALDH1A1 or ALDH3A1 to protect against damage mediated by these toxic aldehydes. Using crude cytosols from stably transfected cell lines, these aldehydes were confirmed to be excellent substrates for ALDH3A1, but were poorly oxidized by ALDH1A1. Expression of ALDH3A1 by stable transfection in V79 cells conferred a high level of protection against growth inhibition by the medium-chain length aldehyde substrates with highest substrate activity, including hexanal, trans-2-hexenal, trans-2-octenal, trans-2-nonenal, and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE). This was reflected in a parallel ability of ALDH3A1 to prevent depletion of glutathione by these aldehydes. Expression of hALDH3 completely blocked the potent induction of apoptosis by HNE in both V79 cells and in a RAW 264.7 murine macrophage cell line, consistent with the observed total prevention of HNE-protein adduct formation. Structure-activity studies indicated that the rank order of potency for the contributions of HNE functional groups to toxicity was aldehyde ≥C2=C3 double bond> >C4-hydroxyl group. Oxidation of the aldehyde moiety of HNE to a carboxyl by ALDH3A1 expressed in stably transfected cell lines drastically reduced its potency for growth inhibition and apoptosis induction. In contrast, ALDH1A1 expression provided only moderate protection against trans-2-nonenal (t2NE), and none against the other six-nine carbon aldehydes. Neither ALDH1A1 nor ALDH3A1 conferred any protection against acrolein, acetaldehyde, or chloroacetaldehyde. A small degree of protection against malondialdehyde was afforded by ALDH1A1, but not ALDH3A1. Paradoxically, cells expressing ALDH3A1 were 1.5-fold more sensitive to benzaldehyde toxicity than control V79 cells. These studies demonstrate that expression of class 3 ALDH, but not class 1 ALDH, can be an important determinant of cellular resistance to toxicity mediated by aldehydes of intermediate chain length that are produced during lipid peroxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-273
Number of pages13
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
StatePublished - Jan 30 2001


  • Chemoprevention
  • Detoxification
  • Human ALDH3
  • Hydroxyalkenals
  • Lipid aldehydes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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