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J Neurochem. 2002 Dec;83(6):1338-48.

Induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs) by sodium arsenite in cultured astrocytes and reduction of hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death.

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Departament de Farmacologia i Toxicologia, IIBB-CSIC, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain.


Induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs) protects cells from oxidative injury. Here Hsp72, Hsp27 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were induced in cultured rat astrocytes, and protection against oxidative stress was investigated. Astrocytes were treated with sodium arsenite (20-50 micro m) for 1 h, which was non-toxic to cells, 24 h later they were exposed to 400 micro m H2O2 for 1 h, and cell death was evaluated at different time points. Arsenite triggered strong induction of HSPs, which was prevented by 1 micro g/mL cycloheximide (CXH). H2O2 caused cell loss and increased cell death with features of apoptosis, i.e. TdT-mediated dUTP nick-end labelling (TUNEL) reaction and caspase-3 activation. These features were abrogated by pre-treatment with arsenite, which prevented cell loss and significantly reduced the number of dead cells. The protective effect of arsenite was not detected in the presence of CHX. Pre-treatment with arsenite increased protein kinase B (Akt) and extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation after H2O2. However, while Akt phosphorylation was prevented by CHX, Erk1/2 phosphorylation was further enhanced by CHX. The results show that transient arsenite pre-treatment induces Hsp72, HO-1 and, to a lesser extent, Hsp27; it reduces H2O2-induced astrocyte death; and it causes selective activation of Akt following H2O2. It is suggested that HSP expression at the time of H2O2 exposure protects astrocytes from oxidative injury and apoptotic cell death by means of pro-survival Akt.

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