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Neurotox Res. 2002 Feb;4(1):1-13.

Oxidative stress in rat cortical neurons and astrocytes induced by paraquat in vitro.

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BAYER A.G., Pharma Research Centre, Aprather Weg, D-42096 Wüppertal, Germany.


Oxidative stress has been discussed as crucial mechanism of neuronal cell death in the adult brain. However, it was not clear until now whether neurons are more sensitive to oxidative stress than the other cells in the brain, e.g. astrocytes. Therefore both cell types were exposed to oxidative stress provoked by the redox-cycling compound paraquat. Cortical neurons were found to be more sensitive towards paraquat toxicity than astrocytes as shown by MTT and Neutral Red assay, two different cytotoxicity assays. Mitochondrial functions were determined by the mitochondrial membrane potential and intracellular ATP concentrations. Again cortical neurons were more severely impaired (by paraquat than astrocytes). The production of reactive oxygen species after paraquat exposure was much higher in cortical neurons than in astrocytes and correlated with a higher depletion of GSH (intracellular glutathion). Lipid peroxidation could be shown in astrocytes via the breakdown product malondialdehyde (MDA) whereas in cortical neurons 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) was detected as this endpoint. If and how oxidative stress influences the antioxidant defense was determined via changes in the expression of antioxidant enzymes. Paraquat exposure lead to a 2-3 fold increase of catalase, MnSOD and CuZnSOD mRNA expression in astrocytes. In contrast to astrocytes, in cortical neurons catalase and MnSOD mRNA levels were only marginally elevated above 1.5-fold by treatment with paraquat. Expression levels of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) mRNA were the only one that were not changed in both cell types after paraquat exposure. It is concluded that the more marked increase in expression levels of antioxidant enzymes may render astrocytes more resistant to oxidative stress than neuronal cells.


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