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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2001 May;60(5):470-82.

Acute hypoxia-induced alterations of calbindin-D28k immunoreactivity in cerebellar Purkinje cells of the guinea pig fetus at term.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, St. Christopher Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, PA 19134, USA.


Purkinje cells (PCs) are vulnerable to hypoxic/ischemic insults and rich in calcium and calcium-buffering/sequestering systems, including calcium-binding proteins (CaBPs). Calbindin-D28k is an EF-hand CaBP, which is highly expressed in PCs where it acts primarily as a cellular Ca++ buffer. Elevation of [Ca++] in the cytosol and nuclei of PCs is pivotal in hypoxic/ischemic cell death. We hypothesize that hypoxia results in decreased concentration, or availability of calbindin-D28k in PCs, thereby decreasing their buffering capacity and resulting in increase of intracellular and intranuclear [Ca++]. Cerebellar tissues from normoxic fetuses were compared to fetuses obtained from term pregnant guinea pigs exposed to hypoxia [7% FiO2] for 60 min. The pregnant guinea pigs were either killed upon delivery immediately following hypoxia (Hx0h) or were subsequently allowed to recover for 24 h (Hx24h) or 72 h (Hx72h). Fetal brain hypoxia was documented biochemically by a decrease in brain tissue levels of ATP and phosphocreatine. Compared to normoxic fetuses, there is a predominantly somatodendritic loss or decrease of calbindin-D28k immunohistochemical staining in PCs of Hx0h (p < 0.005), Hx24h (p < 0.05), and Hx72h (p < 0.005) fetuses. Hypoxia-induced alterations of calbindin-D28k immunoreactivity are qualitatively similar at all time points and include a distinctive intranuclear localization in subpopulations of PCs. A similar trend is demonstrated by immunoblotting. Subpopulations of TUNEL+/calbindin-D28k- PCs lacking morphologic features of apoptosis or necrosis are demonstrated in Hx24h and Hx72h fetuses. The present study demonstrates an abrogating effect of perinatal hypoxia on calbindin-D28k immunoreactivity in cerebellar PCs. The perturbation of this Ca++ buffer protein in hypoxia-induced neuronal injury may herald delayed cell death or degeneration.

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