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Neuroscience. 2005;131(4):887-97.

Caspase 6 expression in the rat hippocampus during epileptogenesis and epilepsy.

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  • 1A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Kuopio, PO Box 1627, FIN-70 211 Kuopio, Finland.


The molecular basis of neuronal circuit reorganization during epileptogenesis is poorly understood. Such data are, however, critical for the search of new targets for the prevention of epileptogenesis. Here, we extended our previous studies on caspases in epileptogenesis by investigating the expression and activity of caspase 6 at different phases of the epileptic process in rats. Epileptogenesis was triggered by kainate-induced status epilepticus (SE) under video-electroencephalography-monitoring. Caspase 6 activity was measured fluorometrically in the hippocampus 8 h, 24 h, 48 h, 1 week, and 4 weeks after SE. Caspase 6 expression was examined using Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Our data demonstrated that the SE-induced increase in the expression of cleaved caspase 6 and its intraneuronal localization were dependent on the time delay from SE induction. Double-labeling with a neuronal marker, NeuN, indicated that within the first 48 h, caspase 6 immunoreactivity was present both in the hippocampal pyramidal cells and hilar neurons, some of which were also terminal transferase dUTP-end labeling-positive. This was coincident with a transient 18-fold increase in caspase 6 enzymatic activity. At the 1-week and 4-week time points, elevated caspase 6 immunoreactivity was detected in the dendritic processes and neuropil. These findings indicate that caspase 6 expression remains elevated long after the occurrence of acute cell death during epileptogenesis and epilepsy. Further, caspase 6 protein is not exclusively located in the somata of neurons, but also in dendrites. These data suggest that caspase 6 has functions other than execution of programmed cell death in epileptogenic hippocampus.

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