Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2001 Sep 15;21(18):7127-34.

Specific caspase pathways are activated in the two stages of cerebral infarction.

Author information

Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 421/IM3, F-94010 Créteil Cedex, France.


Necrosis and apoptosis have been initially identified as two exclusive pathways for cell death. In acute brain lesions, such as focal ischemia, this binary scheme is challenged by demonstrations of mixed morphological and biochemical characteristics of both apoptosis and necrosis in single cells. The resulting difficulty in defining the nature of cell death that is triggered by severe insults has dramatically impeded the development of therapeutic strategies. We show that in the early stages of cerebral infarction, neurons of the so-called "necrotic" core display a number of morphological, physiological, and biochemical features of early apoptosis, which include cytoplasmic and nuclear condensations and specific caspase activation cascades. Early activation cascades involve the death receptor pathway linked to caspase-8 and the caspase-1 pathway. They are not associated with alterations of mitochondrial respiration or activation of caspase-9. In contrast, pathways that are activated during the secondary expansion of the lesion in the penumbral area include caspase-9. In agreement with its downstream position in both mitochondria-dependent and -independent pathways, activation of caspase-3 displays a biphasic time course. We suggest that apoptosis is the first commitment to death after acute cerebral ischemia and that the final morphological features observed results from abortion of the process because of severe energy depletion in the core. In contrast, energy-dependent caspase activation cascades are observed in the penumbra in which apoptosis can fully develop because of residual blood supply.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center