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Neurol Res. 2000 Mar;22(2):223-8.

Temporal profile of cytochrome c and caspase-3 immunoreactivities and TUNEL staining after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats.

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Department of Neurology, Okayama University Medical School, Japan.


Although apoptotic pathways play important roles in ischemic neuronal injury, exact mechanism of apoptotic enzyme cascade has not been fully studied. Immunohistochemical stainings for cytochrome c and caspase-3, and histochemical staining for a terminal deoxynucleotidyl-transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end-labeling method (TUNEL) were examined in a rat model of permanent middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion. Cytochrome c was strongly induced in neurons of the ischemic penumbra from 3 h after MCA occlusion, and caspase-3 began to be induced in the same area from 3 h with a peak at 8 h. Neuronal cells in MCA area became TUNEL positive at delayed time, reaching a peak at 24 h. Thus, the peak of induction of cytochrome c preceded that of caspase-3, and these two peaks were also precedence of the peak of DNA-fragmentation. Western blot analysis showed cytosolic expression of cytochrome c from mitochondria. This study demonstrated 1. Rapid release of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytosol, mainly in neurons of the cortex at 3 h after ischemia. 2. Subsequent peaks of caspase-3 and TUNEL in this order. These temporal profiles suggest a serial cascadic activation of apoptotic pathways in neuronal death after permanent MCA occlusion of rats.

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