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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2000 Mar;20(3):592-603.

Transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B is activated in neurons after focal cerebral ischemia.

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Lilly Neuroscience, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana 46225, USA.


Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) is a multisubunit transcription factor that when activated induces the expression of genes encoding acute-phase proteins, cell adhesion molecules, cell surface receptors, and cytokines. NF-kappaB is composed of a variety of protein subunits of which p50-and p65-kDa (RelA) are the most widely studied. Under resting conditions, these subunits reside in the cytoplasm as an inactive complex bound by inhibitor proteins, IkappaB alpha and IkappaB beta. On activation, IkappaB is phosphorylated by IkappaB kinase and ubiquitinated and degraded by the proteasome; simultaneously, the active heterodimer translocates to the nucleus where it can initiate gene transcription. In the periphery, NF-kappaB is involved in inflammation through stimulation of the production of inflammatory mediators. The role of NF-kappaB in the brain is unclear. In vitro, NF-kappaB activation can be either protective or deleterious. The role of NF-kappaB in ischemic neuronal cell death in vivo was investigated. Adult male rats were subjected to 2 hours of focal ischemia induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). At 2, 6, and 12 hours after reperfusion, the expression and transactivation of NF-kappaB in ischemic versus nonischemic cortex and striatum were determined by immunocytochemistry and by electrophoretic mobility gel-shift analysis. At all time points studied, p50 and p65 immunoreactivity was found exclusively in the nuclei of cortical and striatal neurons in the ischemic hemisphere. The contralateral nonischemic hemisphere showed no evidence of nuclear NF-kappaB immunoreactivity. Double immunofluorescence confirmed expression of p50 in nuclei of neurons. Increased NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity in nuclear extracts prepared from the ischemic hemisphere was further substantiated by electrophoretic mobility gel-shift analysis. Because the activation of NF-kappaB by many stimuli can be blocked by antioxidants in vitro, the effect of the antioxidant, LY341122, previously shown to be neuroprotective, on NF-kappaB activation in the MCAO model was evaluated. No significant activation of NF-kappaB was found by electrophoretic mobility gel-shift analysis in animals treated with LY341122. These results demonstrate that transient focal cerebral ischemia results in activation of NF-kappaB in neurons and supports previous observations that neuroprotective antioxidants may inhibit neuronal death by preventing the activation of NF-kappaB.

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