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J Neurochem. 2003 Oct;87(2):522-31.

Activation of stimulatory heterotrimeric G proteins increases glutathione and protects neuronal cells against oxidative stress.

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Research Group Protective Signalling, Zentrum für Molekulare Neurobiologie and Department of Neurology, University Hospital Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.


Oxidative glutamate toxicity in the neuronal cell line HT22 is a model for cell death by oxidative stress, where an excess of extracellular glutamate inhibits import of cystine, a building block of the antioxidant glutathione. The subsequent decrease in glutathione then leads to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and programmed cell death. We used pharmacological compounds known to interact with heterotrimeric G-protein signalling and studied their effects on cell survival, morphology, and intracellular events that ultimately lead to cell death. Cholera toxin and phorbol esters were most effective and prevented cell death through independent pathways. Treating HT22 cells with cholera toxin attenuated the glutamate-induced accumulation of ROS and calcium influx. This was, at least in part, caused by an increase in glutathione due to improved uptake of cystine mediated by the induction of the glutamate/cystine-antiporter subunit xCT or, additionally, by the up-regulation of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2. Gs activation also protected HT22 cells from hydrogen peroxide or inhibition of glutathione synthesis by buthionine sulfoximine, and immature cortical neurones from oxidative glutamate toxicity. Thus, this pathway might be more generally implicated in protection from neuronal death by oxidative stress.

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