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Cell Death Differ. 1998 Oct;5(10):911-9.

Growth factors prevent changes in Bcl-2 and Bax expression and neuronal apoptosis induced by nitric oxide.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, Osaka University Medical School, 2-2 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565, Japan. tama@anat2.med.osaka-u.ac.jp


Recent studies have shown that nitric oxide (NO) donors can trigger apoptosis of neurons, and growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) can protect against NO-induced neuronal cell death. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the possible mechanisms of NO-mediated neuronal apoptosis and the neuroprotective action of these growth factors. Both IGF-1 and bFGF prevented apoptosis induced by NO donors, sodium nitroprusside (SNP) or 3-morpholinosydnonimin (SIN-1) in hippocampal neuronal cultures. Incubation of neurons with SNP induced caspase-3-like activation following downregulation of Bcl-2 and upregulation of Bax protein levels in cultured neurons. Treatment of neurons with a bax antisense oligonucleotide inhibited the caspase-3-like activation and neuronal death induced by SNP. In addition, treatment of neurons with an inhibitor of caspase-3, Ac-DEVD-CHO, together with SNP did not affect the changes in the protein levels, although it inhibited NO-induced cell death. Pretreatment of cultures with either IGF-1 or bFGF prior to NO exposure inhibited caspase-3-like activation together with the changes in Bcl-2 and Bax protein levels. These results suggest that the changes in Bcl-2 and Bax protein levels followed by caspase-3-like activation are a component in the cascade of NO-induced neuronal apoptosis, and that the neuroprotective actions of IGF-1 and bFGF might be due to inhibition of the changes in the protein levels of the Bcl-2 family.

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