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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 Jan 15;373(2):346-51.

Inhibition of cathepsin D prevents free-radical-induced apoptosis in rat cardiomyocytes.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Link]oping University, Link]oping, S-581 85, Sweden.


Apoptosis was inhibited in rat cardiomyocytes pretreated with the aspartic protease inhibitor pepstatin A and subsequently exposed to naphthazarin (5,8-dihydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone). Cathepsin D was released from lysosomes to the cytosol upon exposure to naphthazarin, and the enzyme activity decreased simultaneously. Later, cathepsin D reappeared in granules of increased size, and enzyme activity was restored. Activation of caspase-3-like proteases was detected, and the number of cells showing apoptotic morphology increased with time. Pepstatin A pretreatment did not prevent release of cathepsin D from lysosomes but did significantly inhibit subsequent naphthazarin-induced caspase activation and apoptotic morphology. This suggests that cathepsin D exerts its apoptosis-stimulating effect upstream of caspase-3-like activation.

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