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Toxicol Lett. 2003 Apr 4;139(2-3):125-33.

Apoptosis induced in neuronal cells by oxidative stress: role played by caspases and intracellular calcium ions.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, School of Medicine, University of Naples 'Federico II', Via S Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in the pathophysiology of many neurologic disorders and brain dysfunction. In the same pathological settings evidence has been provided in favour of a participation of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration altered homeostasis in the chain of events leading to neuronal apoptosis. In the present review literature reports and experimental data on the relationship between caspase activation and alteration of intracellular calcium concentrations in the mechanisms triggering neuronal apoptosis are discussed. The data gathered support the conclusion that during oxidative stress in neuronal cells the production of ROS triggers a mechanism that, through the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria and caspase-3 activation, leads to apoptosis; the concomitant ROS-mediated elevation of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration triggers caspase-2 activation but both events do not seem to be involved in cell death.

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