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Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;70(6):2116-26. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Neurotoxicity of domoic Acid in cerebellar granule neurons in a genetic model of glutathione deficiency.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, 4225 Roosevelt Way NE, Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98105, USA.


This study investigated the role of cellular antioxidant defense mechanisms in modulating the neurotoxicity of domoic acid (DomA), by using cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) from mice lacking the modifier subunit of glutamate-cysteine ligase (Gclm). Glutamate-cysteine ligase (Glc) catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step in glutathione (GSH) biosynthesis. CGNs from Gclm (-/-) mice have very low levels of GSH and are 10-fold more sensitive to DomA-induced toxicity than CGNs from Gclm (+/+) mice. GSH ethyl ester decreased, whereas the Gcl inhibitor buthionine sulfoximine increased DomA toxicity. Antagonists of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid/kainate receptors and of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors blocked DomA toxicity, and NMDA receptors were activated by DomA-induced l-glutamate release. The differential susceptibility of CGNs to DomA toxicity was not due to a differential expression of ionotropic glutamate receptors, as evidenced by similar calcium responses and L-glutamate release in the two genotypes. A calcium chelator and several antioxidants antagonized DomA-induced toxicity. DomA caused a rapid decrease in cellular GSH, which preceded toxicity, and the decrease was primarily due to DomA-induced GSH efflux. DomA also caused an increase in oxidative stress as indicated by increases in reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation, which was subsequent to GSH efflux. Astrocytes from both genotypes were resistant to DomA toxicity and presented a diminished calcium response to DomA and a lack of DomA-induced L-glutamate release. Because polymorphisms in the GCLM gene in humans are associated with low GSH levels, such individuals, as well as others with genetic conditions or environmental exposures that lead to GSH deficiency, may be more susceptible to DomA-induced neurotoxicity.

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