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J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 19;23(33):10681-90.

Hypoglycemic neuronal death and cognitive impairment are prevented by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors administered after hypoglycemia.

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Department of Neurolog, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Severe hypoglycemia causes neuronal death and cognitive impairment. Evidence suggests that hypoglycemic neuronal death involves excitotoxicity and DNA damage. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) normally functions in DNA repair, but promotes cell death when extensively activated by DNA damage. Cortical neuron cultures were subjected to glucose deprivation to assess the role of PARP-1 in hypoglycemic neuronal death. PARP-1-/- neurons and wild-type, PARP-1+/+ neurons treated with the PARP inhibitor 3,4-dihydro-5-[4-(1-piperidinyl)butoxy]-1(2H)-isoquinolinone both showed increased resistance to glucose deprivation. A rat model of insulin-induced hypoglycemia was used to assess the therapeutic potential of PARP inhibitors after hypoglycemia. Rats subjected to severe hypoglycemia (30 min EEG isoelectricity) accumulated both nitrotyrosine and the PARP-1 product, poly(ADP-ribose), in vulnerable neurons. Treatment with PARP inhibitors immediately after hypoglycemia blocked production of poly(ADP-ribose) and reduced neuronal death by >80% in most brain regions examined. Increased neuronal survival was also achieved when PARP inhibitors were administered up to 2 hr after blood glucose correction. Behavioral and histological assessments performed 6 weeks after hypoglycemia confirmed a sustained salutary effect of PARP inhibition. These results suggest that PARP-1 activation is a major factor mediating hypoglycemic neuronal death and that PARP-1 inhibitors can rescue neurons that would otherwise die after severe hypoglycemia.

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