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Biol Neonate. 2001;79(3-4):172-9.

Caspase-3 activation after neonatal rat cerebral hypoxia-ischemia.

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Perinatal Center, Department of Physiology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Caspase-3 is a major effector protease in several apoptotic pathways, but its role in hypoxic-ischemic (HI) brain injury is incompletely understood. Cerebral HI was induced in 7-day-old rats by unilateral carotid artery ligation and exposure to 7.7% oxygen for 55 min. Caspase-3-like activity was significantly increased at 1 h (208%), peaked at 24 h (2,563%) and was still increased 6 days after HI (169%) in the ipsilateral cerebral cortex. Concomitantly, cleavage of the caspase-3 proform (31/33 kD) was detected on immunoblots, producing 29- and 17-kD fragments. Furthermore, significant degradation of the endogenous caspase-3 substrates inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase (DNA fragmentation factor 45), poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and fodrin occurred. In conclusion, caspase-3 is activated extensively in the immature brain after HI. The subsequent cleavage of proteins involved in cellular homeostasis and repair may contribute to the process of brain injury.

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