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Neuroscience. 2002;114(2):327-37.

Time course and manner of Purkinje neuron death following a single ethanol exposure on postnatal day 4 in the developing rat.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA. lightkime@uams.edu


The present study was designed to evaluate the time course and manner of Purkinje cell death following a single ethanol dose delivered intragastrically on postnatal day (PN) 4 to rat pups. Analysis included immunolabeling of Purkinje cells with antibody specific for calbindin D28k and counting of Purkinje cells in each lobule of a mid-vermal slice. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling analysis and immunodetection for cleaved (activated) caspase-3 enzyme was used to identify apoptosis, with calbindin D28k co-immunolabeling to identify apoptotic Purkinje cells. Finally, immunodetection for cytochrome c, again with co-labeling using calbindin D28k antibody, identified intracellular release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm of Purkinje cells. The data demonstrate that a single dose of ethanol results in a significant and extensive, lobular dependent loss of Purkinje cells within 24 h after administration. Extensive loss in the early developing lobules (I-III, VIII-X) and less to no loss in the later developing lobules (IV-VII) is consistent with prior literature reports on the ethanol-induced effects on Purkinje cells at this age. Clear and consistent evidence of apoptotic Purkinje cells was identified and the pattern was transient in nature. Finally, cytochrome c is released from the mitochondria of Purkinje cells in a time course consistent with the activation of the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. These data support the hypothesis that ethanol-induced loss of Purkinje cells involves apoptotic mechanisms. Furthermore, the initiation of apoptosis by ethanol is consistent with ethanol-induced interruptions of Purkinje cell neurotrophic support leading to activation of the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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